For Immediate Release: November 9, 2023
Contact: Christina Clark Okarmus, Alabama Campaign for Adolescent Sexual Health
[email protected], 334-265-8004
Montgomery, Ala. — Alabama has quietly returned funding to the CDC for the biennial Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS or YRBS). The YRBS, last conducted in 2021, surveys high school students from across the state to learn about their health behaviors and risk factors. YRBS funding is available for all states and territories in the US, and has questions about alcohol and drug use, driving behaviors, nutrition and exercise, sexual activity, mental health, and violence. YRBS funding is distributed to state agencies – in Alabama the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) applied for and received funding, and also administered the YRBS.
“It is unclear to us why Alabama has decided to send YRBS funding back,” said Alabama Campaign executive director, Christina Clark Okarmus. “The loss of this information is huge. YRBS data allowed us to track how many Alabama youth were engaging in sexual behaviors, how many were using safer sex methods like condoms and birth control, and how many were tested for HIV and STIs. The YRBS also allowed us to see a fuller picture of sexual assault and sexual violence, including unhealthy relationships. Without this data, we cannot know how to best serve young people in Alabama.”
Alabama does not mandate sex education and the 2021 YRBS showed that 47% of 12th graders in Alabama have had sexual intercourse at least once. Alabama also has the fifth highest teen birth rate in the country. Young people ages 14-19 have disproportionately high rates of STIs and HIV, and marginalized communities (Black, Hispanic, LGBTQ+ youth) see even higher rates of unplanned pregnancy, STIs, and HIV. Alabama has received YRBS funding since at least 2003, and many organizations rely on YRBS data for programming and funding.
The Alabama Campaign for Adolescent Sexual Health champions healthy adolescent development through medically accurate and equitable sexual health education and services. Learn more at alabamacampaign.org.