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Survey Finds Big Drop in Sexual Activity Among Black Teens
Date:7/24/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- Black teenagers in the United States have become much less sexually active over the past two decades, and those who do have sex appear to be more likely to use condoms, a new survey has found.

The declines are "dramatic," said report author Laura Kann, who studies adolescent health for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The numbers don't disclose anything about why black teens might have changed their behavior. "This tells us what kids do, but not why," Kann said.

Overall, teens of all racial and ethnic groups are about as sexually active as they were a decade ago. And the rate of condom use by teens -- just six in 10 used them the last time they had sex -- hasn't changed much since the 1990s.

By contrast, the numbers for black teens are strikingly different. The percentage who reported ever having sex fell from 82 percent in 1991 to 60 percent in 2011. Kann said the numbers coincide with drops in teen pregnancy and births.

Increased education about HIV/AIDS among blacks, leadership in the black community and a public health focus on black Americans could explain the change, Kann said.

The new CDC teen-sex survey also reveals that:

  • The percentages of students who've had sex have remained fairly stable over the last 20 years for Hispanic students (49 percent in 2011) and whites (44 percent in 2011).
  • Overall, 47 percent of all teens surveyed said they'd ever had sex, down from 54 percent in 1991. The rate has barely changed since 2001.
  • About one-third of students said they'd had sex within the past three months, and 15 percent said they'd had sex with four or more partners.
  • The percentage of sexually active teens who use condoms grew from 46 percent in 1991 to 60 percent in 2011, although the number hasn't changed much in recent years. Black teens are more likely to use
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