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CDC Releases 2015 YRBS Data

On June 9, 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The YRBS, which is released biennially, tracks a variety of health behaviors, 118 in 2015, including sexual health behaviors.

The 2015 national YRBS data is based on 15,713 usable questionnaires completed in 125 public and private schools with students in at least one of grades 9 through 12 in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

While the data is an invaluable tool in determining the health and well-being of students across the nation and in highlighting disparities, it is also important to recognize that the behaviors are a reflection of inequities young people face in accessing information and care related to their sexual health.

The majority of high school students report having had sex; by the time students are high school seniors, 57% of females and 59% of males report having had sexual intercourse. There has, however, been a decrease since 2013 in the number of students reporting they have ever had sexual intercourse (a six percentage point decrease) or are sexually active (a four percentage point decrease).

The 2015 YRBS showed a four percentage point increase since 2013 in the reported use of birth control, though discouragingly, it also showed decrease in the number of sexually active young people reporting condom use, a decrease of six percentage points since 2003. In addition, the number of students reporting having been tested for HIV dropped from 13% to 10% since 2013.

Also disturbingly, more students who are dating reported being forced to engage in sexual activity against their will, 11% in 2013 compared to 10% in 2011. Females are far more likely, at 16%, to report being forced into sexual acts against their will than males, at 5%.

These and additional data highlights are provided below. Further analysis and utilization of this data is crucial to advancing the sexual health and well-being of young people and our nation.

Key results for sexual behavior in the 2015 YRBS include the following:

  • 41% of students reported ever having had sexual intercourse (47% in 2011 and 2013)
    • 40% of White males, 59% of Black males, and 45% of Hispanic males
    • 40% White females, 37% Black females, 40% Hispanic females
       
  • 30% of students reported being currently sexually active, defined as having had sexual intercourse in the three months prior to the survey (34% in 2011 and 2013)
    • 31% of White females, 26% of Black females, and 30% of Hispanic females
    • 29% of White males, 40% of Black males, and 31% of Hispanic males
       
  • 4% of students reported having had sexual intercourse before age 13 (6% in 2011 and 2013)
    • 2% of females and 6% of males
    • 2% of White females, 4% of Black females, and 3% of Hispanic females
    • 4% of White males, 12% of Black males, and 7% of Hispanic males
       
  • 7% of students reported having ever been physically forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to (8% in 2011 and 7% in 2013)
    • 10% of females and 3% of males
    • 10% of White, Black, and Hispanic females
    • 2% of White males, 4% of Black males, and 4% of Hispanic males
       
  • 10% of students who dated or went out with someone during the 12 months before the survey had been physically hurt on purpose by someone they were dating or going out with one or more times in the prior year (10% in 2011 and 2013)
    • 12% of females and 7% of males
    • 12% White females, 12% Black females, 11% of Hispanic females
    • 6% of White males, 9% of Black males, and 8% of Hispanic males
       
  • 11% of students nationwide who dated or went out with someone during the 12 months before the survey had been forced to do sexual things they did not want to do by someone they were dating or going out with one or more times in the prior year (10% in 2011 and 2013)
    • 16% of females and 5% of males
    • 17% of White females, 12% of Black females, and 14% of Hispanic females
    • 4% of White males, 8% of Black males, 7% of Hispanic males
       
  • 57% of currently sexually active students reported that either they or their partner had used a condom during last sexual intercourse (60% in 2011 and 59% in 2013)
    • 52% of females and 62% of males
    • 56% of White females, 47% of Black females, and 48% of Hispanic females
    • 58% of White males, 74% of Black males, and 63% of Hispanic males
       
  • 27% of currently sexually active students reported that either they or their partner had used birth control pills; an IUD or implant; or a shot, patch, or birth control ring to prevent pregnancy before last sexual intercourse (23% in 2011 and 25% in 2013)
    • 34% of females and 20% of males
    • 39% of White females, 21% of Black females, and 23% of Hispanic females
    • 27% of White males, 13% of Black males, and 12% of Hispanic males
       
  • 9% of currently sexually active students reported that either they or their partner had used both a condom during last sexual intercourse and birth control pills; an IUD or implant; or a shot, patch, or birth control ring to prevent pregnancy before last sexual intercourse (10% in 2011 and 9% in 2013)
    • 12% of females and 6% of males
    • 16% of White females, 6% of Black females, and 5% of Hispanic females
    • 8% of White males, 4% of Black males, and 5% of Hispanic males
       
  • 14% of currently sexually active students had not used any method to prevent pregnancy during last sexual intercourse (13% in 2011 and 14% in 2013)
    • 15% of females and 12% of males
    • 10% of White females, 26% of Black females, and 23% of Hispanic females
    • 10% of White males, 10% of Black males, and 17% of Hispanic males
       
  • 10% of students reported having been tested for HIV (13% in 2011 and 2013)
    • 11% of females and 9% of males
    • 9% of White females, 16% of Black females, and 12% of Hispanic females
    • 7% of White males, 17% of Black males, and 10% of Hispanic males

The complete 2015 YRBS can be found at www.cdc.gov/yrbs.

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