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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Arizona Study Shows Many Youth Engage in Unprotected Sex

September 12, 2002
Associated Press (09.12.02) - Thursday, September 12, 2002

About 91 percent of teens in drug treatment programs have had sexual intercourse and used condoms only half the time, according to a new study. A University of Arizona researcher revealed the findings at a US-Mexico binational conference on HIV/AIDS this week. The three- year, $2 million study focused on 400 adolescents ages 12 to 17 from southern Arizona and Maricopa County.

The study shows marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamines and hallucinogens are the drugs of choice. Sally Stevens, a professor with the UA Southwest Institute for Research on Women, said 81 percent reported a family history of drug and alcohol abuse. Of the 120 girls in the study, 30 percent had been pregnant at least once by age 15, she said. Some of the teens had multiple pregnancies by that age, and most kept their babies, Stevens said. Thirty percent of the girls reported being raped before age 13, and some coped by using drugs, she said.

About 25 percent of the participants agreed to be tested for STDs. Of those, nearly half tested positive; however, none tested positive for HIV, Stevens said. "The average age of sexual consent was 13," Stevens said. About 300 doctors, researchers and health care experts from both sides of the border attended the conference and discussed the effects of HIV/AIDS in border communities, prevention methods aimed at high-risk populations, and updates on treatment.

"These kids are walking times bombs," Stevens said. "They could develop HIV at any time."