NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Unsafe Sex Widespread

May 16, 2003

Many teens and adults don't think oral sex is sex. It's not intercourse, but it is not "safe sex," either. Meanwhile, millions of teen-agers who are engaging in such intimate contact are becoming infected with sexually transmitted diseases every year.

According to a study in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, adolescents were more likely to report engagement in oral sex than intercourse, report more oral sex partners than intercourse partners and were unlikely to report use of STD protection during oral sex.

  • Three million U.S. teens are infected with one or more sexually transmitted diseases -- including herpes, gonorrhea and the virus that causes AIDS.
  • Of 10th graders surveyed, 40 percent engaged in oral sex within the past year.
  • More than 25 percent had three or more sexual partners.

Furthermore, say observers, the true extent of some sexually transmitted diseases isn't known, because HIV data from many states is not even included in statistics compiled by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Unlike the statistics regarding other sexually transmitted diseases and other infectious diseases, some jurisdictions -- including California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Maryland and Vermont -- do not report their HIV infection rates at all.
  • In some cases, it is because those jurisdictions offer anonymous testing; in others, because those jurisdictions base their data on home testing.

Source: Deborah Simmons, "Tall tales about 'safe' sex," Washington Times, May 16, 2003; Mitchell J. Prinstein, Christina S. Meade and Geoffrey L. Cohen, "Adolescent Oral Sex, Peer Popularity, and Perceptions of Best Friends' Sexual Behavior," Journal of Adolescent Psychology, June 2003.

For JAP study abstract


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