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CDC Releases 2011 YRBS Data; Fewer Youth Receiving Information about HIV and AIDS

For Immediate Release                                                                       Contact: Jen Heitel Yakush
June 7, 2012                                                                                           Phone: (202) 265-2405
CDC Releases 2011 YRBS Data; Fewer Youth Receiving Information about HIV and AIDS
New York, NY – Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).  The YRBS, which is released biennially, tracks a variety of health risk behaviors, including sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV, among a representative sample of high school students. The 2011 YRBS surveyed more than 15,000 high school students from across the country and includes national YRBS data as well as data from 43 states and 21 large urban school districts. 
Between 1991, when the YRBS was first conducted, and 1999 there were sharp increases in positive sexual health behaviors and decreases in negative behaviors.  Since then, however, that progress has predominantly stalled or moved backward.
“The 2011 YRBS shows us that we still have a long way to go in supporting young people’s ability to increase positive sexual health behaviors,” said Monica Rodriguez, president and CEO of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). “The survey also tells us that even fewer young people are being reached with sex education that includes the vital information youth need to delay sexual activity and prevent HIV, other STDs, and unintended pregnancies when they do become sexually active.”
For ten years, roughly 10-15% of young people reported not being taught about HIV and AIDS in school. The 2011 YRBS shows a worsening of this trend: for the first time, more than 15% of students reported not being taught about AIDS or HIV in school.
“As states are being asked to do more with less and education systems continue to dedicate more and more resources to teaching to the test, they are leaving young people’s health behind,” continued Rodriguez. “This is also particularly troubling because of the recent devastating cut sustained by the Division of Adolescent and School Health, or DASH, in this year’s federal budget.”
CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) is a unique source of support for HIV prevention efforts in our nation’s schools and is also responsible for conducting the YRBS. DASH received a drastic funding cut of $10 million in FY 2012—a 25% reduction from FY 2011. This funding cut—to a program that has not seen a budget increase in over ten years—will hinder DASH’s ability to provide vital training, resources, and technical assistance to education agencies across the country.
“Next week, as Congress begins their work on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, we hope they will pay attention to what the 2011 YRBS is telling us—when we fail to reach young people with the education, information, and skills they need to be sexually healthy, we fail to provide them with tools to make safe, healthy, and responsible decisions about their sexual health,” said Rodriguez, concluding that, “Now is the time to increase investments in the sexual health and well-being of America’s young people. We call on Congress to fully fund DASH as well as the President’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative in Fiscal Year 2013.”
Key results for sexual behavior in the 2011 YRBS included the following:
  • 47.4% of students reported ever having had sexual intercourse (46% in 2009)
  • 6.2% of students reported having had sex before age 13 (5.9% in 2009)
  • 15.3% of students reported having had sex with four or more sexual partners (13.8% in 2009)
  • 33.7% of students reported being currently sexually active, defined as having had sexual intercourse in the three months prior to the survey (34.2% in 2009)
  • 60.2% of sexually active students reported that either they or their partner had used a condom during last sex (61.1% in 2009)
  • 18.0% of sexually active students reported that either they or their partner had used birth control pills to prevent pregnancy before last sexual intercourse (19.8% in 2009)
  • 12.9% of sexually active students had not used any method to prevent pregnancy during last sexual intercourse (11.9% in 2009)
  • 84.0% of students reported having been taught about AIDS or HIV in school (87% in 2009)
  • 9.4% of students nationwide had been hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend (i.e., dating violence) (9.8% in 2009)
  • 8.0% of students had ever been physically forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to (7.4% in 2009)
The full YRBS, including data on many other teen risk behaviors, can be found at:
For more information or to interview SIECUS’ President and CEO Monica Rodriguez, please contact Jen Heitel Yakush at or (202) 265-2405.
SIECUS affirms that sexuality is a fundamental part of being human, one that is worthy of dignity and respect. We advocate for the right of all people to accurate information, comprehensive education about sexuality, and sexual health services. SIECUS works to create a world that ensures social justice and sexual rights.