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U.S. News

Study Finds That Teenage Virginity Pledges Are Rarely Kept

March 10, 2004

The majority of teenagers who pledged not to have sex before marriage did not keep their vows, and those teens also developed STDs at about the same rate as young people who had not made such pledges, according to a study reported Tuesday at the National STD Prevention Conference in Philadelphia. But the study found that a pledge to refrain from sex did tend to delay the start of sexual intercourse by 18 months. Those who took virginity pledges also married earlier and had fewer sex partners than the other teens surveyed, said lead author Dr. Peter Bearman, chair of the sociology department at Columbia University.

Of the 12,000 teenagers included in the study, 88 percent of those who made a virginity pledge reported having had sexual intercourse before they married, Bearman and co-author Hannah Bruckner of Yale University reported. The researchers tested the participants for three common STDs -- chlamydia, trichomoniasis and gonorrhea -- and found the rates were nearly identical for the teens who took pledges and those who did not.

According to Bearman, telling young people "to 'just say no,' without understanding risk or how to protect oneself from risk, turns out to create greater risk" of STDs. And those teens who had taken abstinence pledges were less likely to know they had an infection.

Also, the teenagers who had made abstinence pledges were less likely to get tested for STDs. Among the girls, 14 percent of pledgers had been tested, compared with 28 percent of girls who had not pledged. Among the boys, 5.2 percent of pledgers were tested, compared with 9.1 percent of boys who did not pledge. Just 40 percent of teens who had taken pledges reported condom use in the most recent year of the study, compared with 60 percent of teens who did not pledge.

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The study, financed by the National Institutes of Health, CDC and the National Science Foundation, is part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and is based on a six-year follow-up of participants who began the study when they were 12 to 18 years old.

Back to other news for March 10, 2004

Adapted from:
New York Times
03.10.04; Lawrence K. Altman



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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