More than half of the city’s high school students report being sexually active, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
The good news is that more students are using some kind of birth control. Teen birth rates in the city dropped by a third between 2009 and 2013, the latest year for which figures are available, according to Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The bad news? The rate of 43 teen births per 1,000 girls in Baltimore is still 1.5 times higher than the national rate (26 per 1,000 girls) and twice as high as Maryland’s rate (19 per 1,000) . Worse, the data reveals major racial and ethnic disparities, according to the Baltimore City Health Department. While the rate for white teens is 23 per 1,000, the Hispanic teen birth rate is 65 per 1000 girls and among black teens it is 51 per 1000.
Those racial disparities persist—indeed, they’re amplified—when it comes to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), with African-American youth acquiring chlamydia and gonorrhea at a rate 15 times higher than their white peers in the city, according to the Baltimore City Health Department. And with HIV among 15- to 19-year-olds here, the overall rate is 43 cases per 100,000 youth but 100 cases per 100,000 among African-American teen males, according to the Health Department.
Condom use is sporadic. More than a third of Baltimore teens said that they didn’t use a condom the last time they had sex, according to the CDC’s 2013 youth survey; among LGBTQ students, 60 percent didn’t use a condom.