Finally, some good news on the STI front: the rates of sexually transmitted infections are going up, but according to new data, the percent of guys using condoms during sex has increased too. In a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control, about 33 percent of guys between 15 and 44 years old used a condom in a given year. The data was 2011 to 2015. That figure is up from the 29.5 percent in 2002. During the same period, nearly 24 percent of women reported using a condom.

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However, the percent of people who use a condom every time isn’t nearly so high. The data shows that almost 15 percent of females and 19 percent of males reported using a condom for every sexual encounter within a given year. As people get older, 100 percent condom use tends to decline, with 35 percent of females between 15 and 19 and 53 percent for males of the same age sticking with the practice. Those numbers drop to 10 percent of women and 9 percent of women in the 35 to 44 range who reportedly use protection every time. These figures make sense given that people begin to couple up and get married, eliminating the fear of contracting STIs during this time.

It also makes sense then that guys who had casual sex with someone they saw “once in a while/were just friends/had just met” were more likely to use a condom every time compared to people who had regular partners. However, this pattern wasn’t exhibited by women.

From the data, it seems that more education increases condom use - but only in men. Roughly 12 percent of guys in their early 20s to 40s who had a GED or less than a high school diploma said they always used condoms compared to 16 percent who had graduated from a four-year college.

The majority of Americans practicing safe sex are using condoms as the main form of contraceptives. The report shows that nearly 60 percent of women and 56 percent of guys relied solely on condoms. However, this figure is lower from the data in 2002, which was nearly 68 percent of women and 63 percent of men, revealing that people are increasingly using more than one form of birth control.

For this study, researchers collected data from more than 26,000 Americans through in-person interviews.

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Public Health Officials have long been warning people about the increase in STI rates. In 2014, the incidence of STIs reached an all-time high.

“STD rates are rising, and many of the country’s systems for preventing STDs have eroded,” warned Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, at the time. He attributed the lack in resources to budget cuts that closed sexual health clinics around the country. “We must mobilize, rebuild and expand services – or the human and economic burden will continue to grow.”

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