Adolescent and Young Adult Sexual Health

In response to teen sexual risk behaviors, 35 states have adopted some sort of sex or STD/HIV education. States' statistics are included. 

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Teen births are on the rise.

  • After declining each year from 1991 through 2005, the U.S. teen birth rate increased 3 percent from 2005 to 2006.1
  • The number of teen births increased in 26 states during this time period.1
  • Teen birth rates were highest in the South and Southwest. The highest rates are in Mississippi with 68.4 per 1,000, followed by New Mexico with 64.1 per 1,000 and Texas with 63.1 per 1,000.1
  • The lowest rates for teen births were in New Hampshire with 18.7 per 1,000, followed by Vermont with 20.8 per 1,000 and Massachusetts with 21.3 per 1,000.1
  • The only states reporting a decline in teen births between 2005 and 2006 were North Dakota, Rhode Island and New York.1

Rates for sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents and young adults are alarming.

  • While representing only 25 percent of the sexually active population, 15- to 24-year-olds acquire nearly half of all new STDs.2
  • Chlamydia rates for people ages 15 to 19 and 20 to 24 continue to increase. Between 2006 and 2007, rates increased by nearly 8 percent among 15- to 19-year-olds and by nearly 7 percent among 20- to 24-year-olds. Increases in chlamydia rates are more likely a reflection of expanding screening and using more sensitive tests, rather than an increase in the incidence of disease.3
  • Nearly half of women ages 20 to 24 and a quarter of females ages 14 to 19 are infected with human papillomavirus, also known as HPV.4
  • Only 13 percent of high school students nationwide have been tested for HIV.5
  • Sexual risks behaviors among high school students remained stable between 1991 and 2007.
  • Between 1991 and 2007, the percentage of students who had ever had sexual intercourse decreased from 54 percent to 48 percent.6
  • The percentage of sexually active students reporting condom use increased from 46 percent in 1991 to 63 percent in 2003, but has not changed since 2003.6

Most states require public schools to provide some form of sex or STD/HIV education.

  • Currently, 35 states and Washington, D.C., mandate either sex education or education about HIV/AIDS and other STDs, but the laws tend to be very general. Policies specifying the content of sex education are typically set at the local level.7
  • More than half of the districts in the South with a policy to teach sex education have an abstinence-only policy, compared with only 20 percent of such districts in the Northeast.
  • Currently, 39 states and Washington, D.C., require school districts to allow parental involvement in sexuality and STD/HIV education.7

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1 National Vital Statistics System, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Table B of the National Vital Statistics Report, “Births: Final Data for 2006,” Volume 57, Number 7.
2 Weinstock, H., et al. “Sexually transmitted diseases among American youth: Incidence and prevalence estimates, 2000.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2004:36(1):6–10.
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2007.”
4 Dunne, et al. “Prevalence of HPV Infection among Females in the United States.” JAMA. 2007;297:813–819.
5 Centers for Disease Control. ”HIV Testing Among High School Students—United States, 2007.”
6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
7 Guttmacher Institute, “Sex and STI/HIV Education,”

This publication was supported by Cooperative Agreement 1H25PS00138-01 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.

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