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Sexual Health

The World Health Organization describes sexual health as “a state of physical, mental and social wellbeing in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence”. The majority of NYU students are sexually active, and college is a time when many young people first become sexually active. Students frequently enter college without adequate sexual health knowledge, and, subsequently, they often engage in sexual behaviors that place them at increased risk for unintended health outcomes such as pregnancy, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is crucial to enhance sexual health resources to improve students’ sexual health, increase safer sex behaviors, and reduce STI and HIV transmission.


Key Facts

  • 64.7% of NYU students reported engaging in oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse within the last 12 months.1
  • In 2009, there were 48,100 new HIV cases in the United States, with 19.7% occurring in young people age 15 to 24.2
  • Although young people ages 15 to 24 represent 25% of the sexually experienced population, this age group accounts for nearly 50% of all new STIs, totaling about 9 million cases in 2008.3
  • Over 1.2 million cases of chlamydia were reported in 2008, the most since record keeping for the disease began and the highest number of cases for any STI required to be reported by physicians.3
  • 20 to 24-year-olds are significantly more likely to experience an unintended pregnancy than women aged 19 or younger.4
  • STI rates are twice as common among 20 to 24-year-olds as 15 to 19-year-olds (7 v. 3%).5
  • Many young people misperceive their vulnerability to infection, which can affect
    decisions around sexual behavior.6

Suggestions for Faculty

This page is intended to be a resource containing suggestions for what you can do to help increase students' sexual health knowledge and better manage their sexual health.

• Attend Safe Zone training to become a visible ally to NYU’s LGBTQ community. Creating a university environment that is sensitive, safe, respectful and inclusive supports and encourages positive interpersonal interactions. Sign up for Safe Zone Training.

• Be knowledgeable about NYU’s sexual health services for students and able to refer them to the appropriate resources when necessary.   Visit the NYU Student Health Center website to find out more about specific services or review the Sexual Health Resource Guide, which provides a listing of programs and resources throughout campus for students to manage their own sexual health or to get involved with broader sexual health issues.

• Discuss sexual health issues in the context of the course of study. Students’ knowledge, values, attitudes, and beliefs influence their sexual health decisions and behaviors. Discussions on the evolving societal, cultural, or political views, as well as media influences on issues around gender, sexuality, sexual and reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS, or socio-economic driven health inequalities can be a great opportunity to challenge students’ preconceived notions and perceptions which ultimately can influence their sexual health.

• Discuss current events related to sexuality/sexual health as they may pertain to your course. For example, the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" in the military, gay marriage passed in New York State, mandated coverage for birth control, etc.


sexual health indicators


a) HIV Testing

  • Data Source: ACHA #39F
  • Survey Question: Have you ever been tested for HIV infection?
  • Definition: proportion of students responding yes

b) Annual incidence of chlamydia, age 24 and under

  • Data Source: ACHA #41A6
  • Survey Question: Within the last 12 months, have you been diagnosed or treated by a profession for the following: Chlamydia?
  • Definition: rate per 10,000 of students 24 and under who endorsed “yes”

c) Always use condoms or other protective barrier during vaginal intercourse

  • Data Source: ACHA # 22B
  • Survey Question: Within the last 30 days, how often did you or your partner(s) use a condom or other protective barrier during vaginal intercourse?
  • Definition: proportion of students engaging in vaginal intercourse (within the last 30 days) reported “always” using protective barrier

d) Always use condoms or other protective barrier during anal intercourse

  • Data Source: ACHA # 22C
  • Survey Question: Within the last 30 days, how often did you or your partner(s) use a condom or other protective barrier during anal intercourse?
  • Definition: proportion of students engaging in anal intercourse (within the past 30 days) reported “always” using protective barrier

  1. American College Health Association. (2009). American College Health Association - National College Health Assessment II: New York University Executive Summary Spring 2009. Hanover, MD: Author.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011, September). Diagnoses of HIV Infection and AIDS in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2009. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009, Novem ber). Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2008. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  4. Finer, L.B., Henshaw, S.K. (2004.) Disparities in rates of unintended pregnancy in the United States, 1994 and 2001. Perspectives on Sex and Reproductive Health, 38, 90–6.
  5. Mosher, W.D., Chandra A., & Jones, J. (2004). Sexual behavior and selected health measures: men and women ages 15–44 years of age. Advance Data, 1–56.
  6. Academy for Educational Development. (2007). Summary of a review of the literature: Programs to promote chlamydia screening. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  7. Kirby, D. (2008). The impact of abstinence and comprehensive sex and STD/HIV education programs on adolescent sexual behavior. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 5(3), 18-27. Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Sexual Health Education Does Lead to Safer Sexual Behaviour. Press release, October 22, 1997.
  8. National Prevention Council. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2011). National Prevention Strategy. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of the Surgeon General.
  9. Davis, L., Arshad, U. (2010). Adolescent sexual health and the dynamics of oppression: A call for cultural competency. Issues at a Glance, Advocates for Youth.
  10. Lin, J.S., Whitlock, E., O’Connor, E., & Bauer, V. (2008). Behavioral counseling to prevent sexually transmitted infections: A systematic review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Annals of Internal Medicine, 149(7), 497-508.
  11. Campinha-Bacote, J. (2002). The process of cultural competence in the delivery of healthcare services: A model of care. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 13(3), 181-184.
  12. Drabble, L., Keatley, J., Marcelle, G. (2003). Progress and opportunities in lesbian, gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Communications. Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs, 20(2), 205–227.
  13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010, December). Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Treatment Guidelines, 2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  14. Deptula, D.P., Henry, D.B., & Schoeny, M.E. (2010). How can parents make a difference? Longitudinal associations with adolescent sexual behavior. Journal of Family Psychology, 24( 6), 731–739.
  15. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2010, December). Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Treatment Guidelines, 2010. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  16. Butler, S.C., Procopio, M., Ragan, K., Funke, B., & Black D.R. (2011). Condom and safer sex product availability among colleges and universities in rural setting. The Health Education Monograph Series, 25(2), 10-15.
  17. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010, October). Condom Distribution as a Structural Level Intervention. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  18. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010, December). Vital Signs: HIV testing in the U.S. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  19. Barth, K.R., Cook, R.L., Downs, J.S., Switzer, & G.E., Fischhoff, B. (2002). Social stigma and negative consequences: Factors that influence college students’ decision to seek testing for sexually transmitted infections. Journal of American College Health, 50,(4), 153 – 159.


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