7.1 General context
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During the recent years we are witnessing alarming trends with regard to young people’s health in Bulgaria. 2018 Annual Report on Youth (Годишен доклад за младежта за 2018) shows that more than half (53%) of young people at the age of 25 and 29 years drink spirits, and 14% of them have administered light drugs. As a comparison, 52% of young people drink alcohol in 2010.
In 2016 the National Center of Public Health and Analyses and several NGOs participated in the international initiative ACT!2030. According to the published data it is clear that the use of cigarettes is widely disseminated among young people. Bulgaria ranks first among European countries with regard to smoking in teenage. The trend of high use of alcohol remains unchanged. 86% of students at the age of 16 have used alcohol; almost 60% of them have drunk during the last month, and 46% have got drunk at least once during this period.
The following negative trends can be seen with regard to sexual health and behavior:
- Start of sexual life at the age of 16;
- Wide practice of unsafe sexual contacts (30% of young people do not use condoms for their first sexual intercourse);
- Use of drugs and alcohol before and during sexual intercourse;
- Maintaining parallel sexual relations;
- 10 and more years older sex partners.
As per the data of the Ministry of Health, the number of young people infected with HIV is relatively higher, and 34% of newly registered HIV-positive individuals are at the age of 20 to 29 years.
The health status of people in Bulgaria has improved more slowly than in other EU countries, as shown by persistently low life expectancy. Several recent reforms have attempted to shift the Bulgarian health system away from over-reliance on hospital care and to increase efficiency. Nevertheless, challenges in terms of access and quality remain substantial. The concept of health and wellbeing includes state of physical and mental stable condition of the individuals.