Early sexual activity is associated with emotional94 and physical health risks. Youth who engage in sexual activity are at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and becoming pregnant. STIs, including HIV, can infect a person for a lifetime and have consequences including disability and early death. Meanwhile, delaying sexual initiation is associated with a decrease in the number of lifetime sexual partners,95 and decreasing the number of lifetime partners is associated with a decrease in the rate of STIs.96,97 Additionally, teen pregnancy is associated with a number of negative risk factors, not only for the mother but also for her child (see FAM6).98
NOTE: Students were asked, "Have you ever had sexual intercourse?" Data are collected biennially.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.
96 Dunne, E.F., Unger, E.R., Sternberg, M., McQuillan, G., Swan, D.C., Patel, S.S., and Markowitz, L.E. (2007). Prevalence of HPV infection among females in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association, 297(8), 813–819.
97 Gottlieb, S.L., Pope, V., Sternberg, M.R., McQuillan, G.M., Beltrami, J.F., Berman, S.M., and Markowitz, L.E. (2008). Prevalence of syphilis seroreactivity in the United States: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 2001–2004. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 35(5), 507–511.
98 Beginning in 2011, t-tests were used for this report to test for significant differences between groups. Comparison of confidence intervals was used to test for significant differences prior to 2011.
99 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey data. Available at http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline/App/Default.aspx.