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U.S. News

More U.S. Youth Say They Are Not Having Sex

March 4, 2011

The largest and most in-depth report on US sexual behavior, sexual attraction, and sexual identity shows a rising number of young people are electing to remain abstinent. In 2006-2008, 29 percent of females and 27 percent of males ages 15-24 reported not having any sexual contact, compared with 22 percent in 2002, CDC said Thursday.

National Center for Health Statistics researcher Anjani Chandra, PhD, and colleagues used data based on computer-assisted interviews with 13,495 males and females ages 15-44. That 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth data was compared with results from the 2002 NSFG and other national surveys. The team found few overall changes in the nation's sexual patterns compared to the 2002 survey. But for the first time, they examined certain, specific behaviors that young people may not always report as sex because it is not vaginal intercourse.

"This focused look at oral and anal sex among teens and young adults is prompted by concerns that some young people may engage in other types of sexual contact before they have vaginal intercourse, to avoid the risk of pregnancy," the researchers explained. "In addition to placing themselves at risk of [STDs], some studies have documented that engaging in these other types of sexual contact may hasten young people's initiation of vaginal intercourse."

Among teenagers ages 15-19, 7 percent of females and 9 percent of males reported oral sex with an opposite-sex partner but no vaginal intercourse. Of sexually active people ages 15-24, almost 63 percent of females and 64 percent of males had oral sex, versus almost 69 percent in 2002. Around 21 percent of young males said they had had anal sex, compared to 22 percent in 2002, while the number of young females reporting anal sex remained unchanged at about 20 percent.

Twice as many females reported any lifetime same-sex contact, 13 percent versus 5.2 percent for males.

"These data are relevant to demographic and public health concerns, including fertility and [STDs] among teenagers and adults," the researchers noted.

The report, "Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Identity in the United States: Data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth," was published in National Health Statistics Reports (2011:36). It can be found by visiting

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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.
See Also
More Statistics on Young People and HIV/AIDS in the U.S.

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