Despite the Bush administration's push for abstinence-only sex and HIV prevention education for America's youths, the percentage of teens reporting having had sex remained almost unchanged between 2001 and 2003, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. The percentage of teens in grades 9 through 12 who reported having had sex in 2001 was 45.6%; that number climbed slightly to 46.7% in 2003, according to the CDC's 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, published in the May 21 edition of the agency's publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly.
The study examines six categories of health risk behaviors among U.S. teens, including sex and the use of tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs. More than 15,000 teens were surveyed. The percentage of teenage girls reporting having had sex increased in 2003 among all ethnic groups, according to the survey, with 60.9% of African-American girls, 46.4% of Latino girls, and 43% of white girls reporting having had sex. The percentage of teen boys having had sex declined among white and Latino boys in the 2003 survey, but climbed among African-Americans. Nearly three-quarters of black teenage boys reported having had sex by the end of grade 12. The survey also showed the percentage of teens reporting four or more sexual partners dropped from 19% in 1991 to 14% in 2003. Condom use also was up among sexually active teens, according to the survey.