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Non-Coital Behaviors That Put Teens at Risk for HIV and Other STDs

January 12, 2001

An article in the November/December issue of Family Planning Perspectives reviews the limited information and research on adolescents' experience with oral sex. It draws on interviews and correspondence with roughly two dozen adolescents and health professionals, including researchers, psychologists, abstinence program coordinators and evaluators, sexuality educators, and epidemiologists.


What is Sex?

What is Abstinence?

Historical Perspective

Notes from the Field

The authors conclude that evidence of early oral sexual behavior has implications for education, research and evaluation, and clinical care. First, teachers and parents need to do a better job helping young people interpret the messages about sexuality that they are bombarded with everyday. Further, they need to help adolescents set the criteria and develop the skills they need to decide when to abstain and/or when to participate across the full continuum of sexual behaviors.

Second, broadening the range of behaviors asked about in surveys of sexual activity can enable researchers to identify individuals whose behaviors place them at risk, as well as help develop more appropriate programs and policies. Finally, there is widespread agreement that oral STD risk in adolescent populations has yet to be adequately screened and measured. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that many of the adolescent patients involved have not yet initiated coitus and, thus, are unlikely to visit a family planning or STD clinic. Practitioners need to hone their skills at communicating with their young clients about sexual activities other than penile-vaginal intercourse -- and to do so they need more information.

For more information: L. Remez, "Oral Sex Among Adolescents: Is It Sex or Is It Abstinence?" Family Planning Perspectives, 32(6), pp. 298-304.

See also our article on the New CDC Fact Sheet on Oral Sex.

This article was provided by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is a part of the publication SHOP Talk: School Health Opportunities and Progress Bulletin. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

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