WASHINGTON — Nearly half of high school students say they have had sex, yet progress has stalled in getting them to use condoms to protect against the AIDS virus, government researchers reported Tuesday.
Today, 4 in every 10 new HIV infections occur in people younger than 30, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and the teen years, just as many youths become sexually active, are key for getting across the safe-sex message.
Using a longstanding survey of high school students’ health, the CDC tracked how teen sexual behavior has changed over 20 years. The results are decidedly mixed.
About 60 percent of sexually active high school students say they used condoms the last time they had sex, researchers said at the International AIDS Conference. That is an increase from the 46 percent who were using condoms in 1991.
‘‘This is good news,’’ said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC’s HIV prevention center. But, ‘‘we need to do a lot more.’’
Condom use reached a high of 63 percent in 2003.
Black students are most likely to heed the safe-sex message, yet their condom use dropped from a high of 70 percent in 1999 to 65 percent last year, the study found.