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Report: Fewer Wisconsin teens are sexually active

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A newly released survey shows fewer Wisconsin high school students say they are sexually active, but the rates of sexually transmitted diseases have been on the rise.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction found that about 34 percent of high school students in Wisconsin reported having sex last year, down from 47 percent in 1993, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. Those students also reported having fewer partners.

However, sexually transmitted diseases among 15 to 19-year-olds in Wisconsin are rising, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. There were about 9,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in the state in 2016, up from about 8,000 in 2013.

"We've become somewhat complacent about sexually transmitted infections," said Nicole Angresano, vice president of community impact at the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County.

United Way gives health educators funding to provide sex education lessons in public schools, said Alie Kriofske Mainella, a sex ed instructor. Minnesota doesn't require schools to have sex ed classes. State statute only requires high school students to learn about STDs when addressing physiology and hygiene.

A lack of resources and stigma likely contributes to the rising STD rate, said Anthony Harris, the program coordinator of 414ALL, a condom distribution program in Milwaukee.

"What's happening is young people or people, in general, think that using a condom makes you a certain kind of person and that person is not a good person to be," Harris said.

Informed conversations about sex should be able to change that stigma, Harris said.

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