Almost a third of Americans ages 15 to 24 say they have never had sexual contact with another person, a higher percentage than in a 2002 survey, according to a U.S. government study.
Of those surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 percent of men and 29 percent of women ages 15 to 24 reported being virgins, the Atlanta-based agency said today. In the previous study, about 22 percent of males and females 15 to 24 said they never had sex.
The study was conducted because information about sexual activity is needed to plan for HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy, the authors wrote. About half of new STDs occur in 15- to 24-year-olds, according to a previous study cited in the CDC report. The cost of STDs in that population was about $6.5 billion in 2000, the agency said.
“The data should prove useful for planning programs to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections and to prevent unintended pregnancy,” the CDC authors wrote.
Sixty-eight percent reported having had vaginal intercourse at age 17 or younger and, of those, about 41 percent reported having oral sex first, according to the CDC data. Only 6 percent reported having intercourse for the first time at ages 20 to 24, and 70 percent of those had oral sex first.
The study was based on interviews of 27,266 people ages 15 to 44 conducted over a three-year period ending 2008.
The report also looked at same-sex experiences among men and women ages 15 to 44. Women in that age group were more than twice as likely as men to have had sexual contact with someone of the same sex. Almost 13 percent of women have had a same-sex partner, compared with about 5 percent of men.
About 94 percent of women and 96 percent of men identified themselves as being straight, while 1.1 percent of women and 1.7 percent of men said they were gay. More women than men, 3.5 percent compared with 1.1 percent, said they were bisexual.
This is the seventh time the National Center for Health Statistics has conducted the survey.