Reproductive Health

According to the 2009 YRBSS, 46% of high school students had sexual intercourse by the time they graduated. Significant racial disparities are evident: 42% of non-Hispanic White high school youth surveyed had sexual intercourse, compared to 65.2% of non-Hispanic Black youth, 49.1% of Hispanic youth, and 59.4% of American Indian/Alaskan Native. Among non-Hispanic White youth, 10.5% reported having had sexual intercourse with four or more partners, compared to 28.6% of non-Hispanic Black youth, 14,2% of Hispanic youth, and 23.4% of American Indian/Alaskan Native.

Youth who engage in sexual activity are at high risk of becoming infected with HIV and other STDs. Each year, approximately 19 million new STD infections are reported, nearly half of which occur among youth (ages 15-24). Significant racial and ethnic disparities exists in STD rates among youth. In 2010, for youth (ages 15-19), the rate of chlamydia infection was more than seven times greater for Black, non-Hispanic youth (4,993 infections/100,000 youth) and three times greater for American Indian youth (1,991/100,000) when compared to the rate for White, non-Hispanic youth (662/100,000). Also in 2010, gonorrhea was more than 20 times more prevalent in Black, non-Hispanic youth compared to the rate in White, non-Hispanic youth. Of the estimated 8,300 people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2009 (ages 13-24) – in 40 states reporting to CDC — 64% were Black, non-Hispanic, 16% were Hispanic, and 17% were White, non-Hispanic. The estimated annual cost of STDs to the U.S. health care system is $17 billion — and costs individuals even more in immediate and life-long health consequences.

Significant racial and ethnic disparities in teen pregnancy affect several groups of minority youth more than others. In 2009, the birth rate among Hispanic female adolescents was 64 per 1,000 youth. That rate was nearly 2.5 times that of non-Hispanic Whites (ages 15-19) (Figure 1-4). Birth rates among non-Hispanic Blacks approached 60 live births per 1,000 youth, a rate more than double the rate among non-Hispanic White youth. The estimated cost of teens giving birth before age 18 is a staggering $10.9 billion dollars annually in the United States. Together, STDs and teen live births represent two major public health issues affecting minority groups disproportionately.