More U.S. Teens Saying They're Virgins
September 27, 2002
Incidences of sexual intercourse among high school students have dropped significantly in the past decade, the CDC reported Thursday in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2002;51;38). Also, more teens are saying they are virgins.
In 2001, virgins outnumbered students who say they have had intercourse, 54 percent to 46 percent. In 1991, the ratio was the opposite. In 2001, only one in seven teens -- or 14 percent -- surveyed said they have had at least four sex partners, down from 19 percent in 1991, according to the CDC. "This is good news. However, there are still too many kids that are at risk," said Laura Kann, research chief for the CDC Division of Adolescent and School Health, and a study coauthor. "At least kids are heading in the right direction."
Richard Evans, a prominent psychologist at the University of Houston, questioned how accurate the results are because the survey relies on self-reporting. Kann defended the report's accuracy. CDC officials said they are not sure why abstinence could be on the rise, since students were not asked to explain their behavior. While abstinence programs and campaigns may be working, students may also be finding alternatives to intercourse -- usually oral sex, said Evans, who was not involved in the CDC study.
The apparent decrease in sexual intercourse also mirrors teen decreases in STDs, including HIV, Kann said.
The percentage of black teens who have reported ever having had sexual intercourse dropped from 81 percent in 1991 to 61 percent in 2001. White teens who have reported having sexual intercourse dropped from 50 percent to 43 percent. Overall, male teens who said they have had sexual intercourse fell from 57 percent to 48 percent. The percentage of female teens who said they have had sexual intercourse dropped from 51 percent to 43 percent.
Detroit Free Press
09.27.02; Seth Borenstein
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Releases 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.