|Adolescent Sexual Behavior|
Although teen pregnancy and birth rates had declined steadily in the United States since 1990, birth rates have risen over the last two years, and the United States continues to have among the highest teen birth, HIV, and STI rates among industrialized nations.
Millions of American youth are engaging in behaviors that put them at risk for unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. Each year in the United States, about 750,000 adolescent females become pregnant, 20,000 young people are newly infected with HIV, and nearly four million new STI infections occur among 15- to 19-year-olds.
Yet research has shown that given the right tools, young people have the potential to take responsibility for their sexual and reproductive health. Parental involvement and culturally competent programs that provide complete and accurate information can go a long way toward helping youth make good decisions; but socioeconomic, cultural, and educational disparities must be redressed in order for all youth to lead successful and healthy lives.
If you are conducting research on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, be sure to check out Advocates’ Adolescent Sexual Behavior Research Guide for the most recent news, scholarly research, and publications from a variety of sources.
General Facts about Adolescent Sexual Behavior
Adolescent Sexual Behavior and Youth in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Over 90% of new HIV infections occur in low- and middle-income countries, with millions infected there. In these countries, pregnancy (including complications from childbirth and unsafe abortion) is the leading cause of death for young women ages 15-19. Young people in low- and middle-income countries need information about and access to contraception and condoms to protect their health and lives.
Redressing Reproductive and Sexual Health Disparities Among Young People
Young people of color are at greater risk of HIV and STI infection, even with identical risk behaviors; and young women of color are more than twice as likely to experience pregnancy as young white women. Further, prejudice, discrimination, and harassment are still serious concerns for young people of color and GLBTQ young people. The following resources address the disproportionate impact of negative sexual health outcomes on these young people as well as the underlying social forces that contribute to these disparities.