One-Quarter of Sexually Active NYC Public High School Students at High Risk for HIV, Other STDs, Study Says
Almost 50% of students who attend public high schools in New York City are sexually active, and nearly 25% of sexually active students engage in sexual behavior that puts them at high risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, according to a study released on Tuesday by the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Long Island Newsday reports. The 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey -- based on a self-administered, anonymous questionnaire designed by CDC -- involved 7,400 students in grades nine through 12 in 77 public high schools in the city, according to Newsday (Bowles, Long Island Newsday, 10/20).
The study, which has been conducted every two years since 1997 and also surveys students on other risk behaviors, had the following sex-related findings:
- 48% of public high school students in New York City reported engaging in sexual intercourse at least once (Seifman, New York Post, 10/20).
- 17% of sexually active students reported having had more than four sexual partners (Williams/Colangelo, New York Daily News, 10/20).
- 24% of sexually active students reported that they did not use a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse (AP/WNBC.com, 10/19).
- One in 10 high school students reported having first sexual intercourse by age 13 (Long Island Newsday, 10/20).
- 6% of respondents reported being forced to have sex (New York Post, 10/20).
Comparison With Previous Findings
A smaller percentage of New York City public high school students reported engaging in risky sexual behavior in 2003 than in 2001, the New York Post reports. In 2001, 51% of city public high school students reported being sexually active, and of those, 19% had four or more sexual partners and 25% reported not using a condom during last intercourse, according to the Post (New York Post, 10/20).
Although the percentage of sexually active New York City public high school students who reported not using a condom during last intercourse declined between 2001 and 2003 and is significantly lower than the 2003 national average of 37%, the percentage is "definitely far too high for our liking," Dr. Lorna Thorpe of the New York City health department said (AP/WNBC.com, 10/19). "For sexually active young people, responsible sexual behavior -- including using a condom while having sex -- is essential to protecting their health," health department Director Thomas Frieden said (Long Island Newsday, 10/20). New York City high schools currently make available -- but do not distribute -- condoms to students in a resource room. However, the NYC Department of Education's new sex education curriculum does not include demonstrations on the proper use of condoms, according to the Daily News. NYC Council member Christine Quinn (D), who chairs the Council's Health Committee, said the lack of communication about sex and condoms has "in no way slowed down sexual behavior." She said she was "especially disturbed" by the percentage of students with multiple sexual partners, according to the Daily News. "We have to change what we are doing and change it quickly before we see higher HIV rates and higher teen pregnancy rates," Quinn said (New York Daily News, 10/20).