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CDC Reports on Teen Sexual Health Trends: Progress Has Slowed

On July 16th the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an issue of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) focusing on the sexual and reproductive health of young people, The report, titled the Sexual and Reproductive Health of Persons Aged 10–24 – United States, 2002–2007, features statistics regarding topics such as HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), teen births, sexual assault, and health disparities from nationwide surveys and provides some disturbing findings. It found, that after a period of improvement, progress has slowed and in some cases teen sexual health outcomes are getting worse.

For example, findings from the report show that the rate of AIDS cases among males between the ages of 15–25 almost doubled from 1997 to 2006,[i] and syphilis, a disease which the CDC once had hopes of completely eliminating, had increased in both males and females among teens and young adults ages of 15–24 years in recent years.[ii] Furthermore, approximately 1 million young people ages 10–24 were diagnosed with Chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis in 2006.[iii]
Additionally, the findings revealed that, after a period of large decline from 1991 to 2005, teen birth rates rose between 2005 and 2007. The surveys reported that approximately 745,000 pregnancies occurred among U.S females under the age of 20 in 2004, and an estimated 16,000 pregnancies in that year were reported among females between the ages of 10–14.[iv]
Perhaps most disturbing of all is that the study also showed that approximately one third of adolescents have not received any instruction on methods of birth control before the age of 18.[v]

This report should serve as a call to policy makers that they need to establish a comprehensive approach to improve adolescent sexual health outcomes,” stated Joseph DiNorcia, Jr., president and CEO of SIECUS. “In order to achieve real and lasting progress, we need to create medically accurate, evidence-based programs that meet the needs of our nation’s young people, and give up on the abstinence-only-until-marriage approach that has failed us.”


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[i] Sexual and Reproductive Health of Persons Aged 10–24 Years – United States, 2002–2007, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Surveillance Summaries MMWR 2009;58 (17 July 2009), accessed 27 July 2009, <>.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.