WebMD Medical News
Laura J. Martin, MD
March 3, 2011 -- Young men and women may be waiting longer before having their first sexual experiences than they did just a few years ago, a new CDC study indicates.
According to a study based on 13,500 interviews with men and women, more than 25% in the 15-24 age range say they have never had any sexual contact with another person.
The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics says that 27% of males and 29% of females said during the 2006-2008 period that they had never had sexual contact with another person.
That is up from 22% of males and females in the same age group who gave that answer in 2002.
Other key findings of the report:
Researchers say sexual behaviors, attraction, and self-identity vary by age, marital and cohabiting status, education, and race and Hispanic origin. Behaviors are related to birth and pregnancy rates and also to the incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including the HIV virus that causes AIDS. About half of 19 million new STIs occur among people ages 15 to 24, according to the CDC.
The agency says African-American teenagers ages 15-19 had the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea in 2008, followed by African-American females ages 20-24.
Much of the data for the new report were collected via computer-assisted interviewing, which avoids the necessity of respondents giving answers to a person. Among women ages 15 to 44 in the 2006-2008 period, only 11% said they had never engaged in any form of sexual activity with a male partner.
Other key findings:
Researchers say that having one partner in the past year was much more common among older women, presumably because more of these women were married. About 11% of men reported no sexual contact of any kind with a female partner in the past year, 6.6% had no opposite-sex partner in the past year, 63% had engaged in sexual activity with one partner, 8.6% with two, and about 10% with three or more.
The CDC says the new report will be useful for planning programs aimed at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections and to prevent unintended pregnancies.
SOURCES:News release, CDC.Chandra, A. National Health Statistics Reports, No. 36, March 2011.
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