Kaiser Family Foundation and seventeen Release Latest Edition of ‘SexSmarts’ Survey
The Kaiser Family Foundation and seventeen magazine have released the latest "SexSmarts" survey, part of an "ongoing public information partnership ... to provide young people with information and resources on sexual health issues." The nationwide survey asked more than 500 teens about their knowledge and perceptions of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. More than half of all surveyed teens between the ages of 12 and 17 said that STDs, HIV/AIDS and pregnancy are "big problems" for their age group. Specific details from the survey are outlined below.
- Seventy-two percent of sexually active teens said that they were "personally concerned" about STDs and 65% said that they were "personally concerned" about HIV/AIDS, with over half saying they were "very" concerned about HIV/AIDS.
- Twenty percent of all those surveyed know someone with an STD and 10% know someone infected with HIV. Among sexually active teens, more than half said that they know someone with an STD. The American Social Health Association estimates that a quarter of sexually active teens will contract an STD this year.
- Twenty percent of those surveyed said only people with "a lot of partners" should worry about STDs and a quarter did not think STDs could be spread through oral sex.
- Among sexually active teens, 13% thought that only those with multiple partners need to worry about STDs and 18% were not aware that a person can spread an STD even if they are not experiencing any symptoms.
- Thirty-five percent of sexually active teens have been tested for an STD, according to the survey. "Fear" about confidentiality was a major prohibitive factor against testing.
- Ninety-two percent of those surveyed said they believe teens do not get tested out of fear that their parents might find out, while almost as many (91%) said that fear about "what people might think" if they knew the teen had been tested is another reason teens do not get tested.
- Eighty-four percent said they did not think they were at risk, and an equal number did not want to know if they had an STD.
- The number of teens who did not consider themselves at risk of having an STD was higher (93%) among sexually active teens than among those who were not sexually active. Cost and accessibility were also cited as deterrents to testing by 68% and 75% of teens, respectively.
Where Teens Learn About STDs
- Most teens get their information about STDs from sex education classes in school. Seventy percent cited class as a source of information, and 56% said they learned "a lot" about STDs in class.
- Health care providers also supplied 42% of teens with some knowledge about STDs, with a quarter saying they had learned "a lot" from their doctors.
- Two out of five teens cited parents as a resource, while nearly a third cited both television and magazines, as well as friends, as sources (36%, 32% and 30%, respectively).
- A fifth of teens accessed STD information on the Internet. Fifty-eight percent of teens want more information on how to detect whether they have an STD and more than half would like more information on STD prevention and treatment, as well as where to go to be tested.
- Another 47% said information on how to discuss STDs with a partner would be helpful ("SexSmarts: Sexually Transmitted Disease," August 2001).