News from the FDA/CDC

High schoolers send mixed signals on contraceptive use


Condom use among sexually active high school students rose slightly in 2019, but the longer-term trend has been one of decline since 2003, according to data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

Nonuse of birth control in this population dropped to 11.9% in 2019, but the overall trend is one of no significant change since 2003. Meanwhile, the use of birth control pills has taken a different path, with prevalence rising significantly from 16.0% in 2007 to 23.0% in 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

The prevalence of condom use among sexually active students was 54.3% in 2019, up from 53.8% in 2017 – the survey is conducted every 2 years – but down from a high of 63.0% in 2003, the YRBS data show.

Condoms were the most prevalent method of contraception, but the finding that “only approximately half of sexually active students reported any condom use at last sexual intercourse … is concerning given the high risk for STDs among this population,” Leigh E. Szucs, PhD, and associates said in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In 2019, White (55.8%) and Hispanic (56.2%) students were more likely than Blacks (48.2%) to have used a condom during their last sexual intercourse, but use of birth control pills was much higher among Whites (29.1%) than Hispanics (15.4%) or Blacks (12.9%).The Black respondents were much more likely (23.0%) to use no contraceptive method, compared with Whites (8.4%) or Hispanics (13.3%), they said.

“Meeting the unintended pregnancy and STD/HIV prevention needs of black and Hispanic youths is vital,” wrote Dr. Szucs of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention and associates. “Understanding and addressing structural barriers that might contribute to the observed differences are important next steps.”

The high school students taking the YRBS were considered sexually active if they had intercourse with at least one person in the previous 3 months. Overall, 3,226 (27.4%) of respondents in 2019 reported being sexually active: 52.2% were female and 47.8% were male, the CDC said.

SOURCE: Szucs LE et al. MMWR. 2019 Aug 21;69(SS-01)11-8.

Next Article: