Progress on Condom Use Among Youth Slows, Drops Among Black Teens

After a decade of squabbling over sex ed and access to condoms, a federal health study shows a trend line suddenly inching in the wrong direction.

By Kai Wright Jul 24, 2012

File under: You get what you ask for. Throughout the 1990s, public health researchers saw sharp increases in the number of youth who used condoms when they had sex. But from 2003 forward, as sexual health was consumed by bitter fights over adequate sex ed and access to condoms, that progress halted–and among black teens, it began reversing, according to a [study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]( According to the CDC study, between 1991 and 2003, the share of high schoolers who reported using condoms the last time they got frisky climbed steadily, from 46 percent to 63 percent. Among black youth, who have reported the highest rates of condom use since at least 1991, the condom-use rate had climbed to 70 percent by 1999. But in 2003, the trend line started moving in the opposite direction. Among African Americans, the condom-use rate has fallen most sharply, to 65 percent in 2011. Notably, the study shows that throughout the 1990s youth in all racial and ethnic groups also steadily reported having less sex altogether–with more people abstaining and/or having fewer sex partners. From 2003 forward, that plateaued as well.