Drug Use, Sexual Behavior Surveyed

Article excerpt

More than one in five of U.S. adults aged between 20 and 59 years have experimented with cocaine or other street drugs during their lifetime, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

The report also found that Mexican American males and females had the highest percentage (24% and 45%, respectively) of having one or no sexual partners in a lifetime.

Titled "Drug Use and Sexual Behaviors Reported by Adults," the report is based on data collected from 6,237 U.S. adults from 1999 to 2002 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Information on drug and sexual history was obtained via computer-assisted self interviews, which allowed respondents, for the first time, "to answer questions in complete privacy about socially sensitive questions related to drug use and sexual behavior," wrote the CDC's Cheryl D. Fryar and colleagues (www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad384.pdf). Before 1999, many of the same questions were conducted in private face-to-face interviews.

The report also found that 96% of U.S. adults have engaged in some kind of sex, including oral and anal sex. Sixteen percent of the respondents reported having sex before age 15, while 15% abstained from sex until age 21 or older. The proportion of adults who first had sex before the age of 15 was highest, at 28%, among non-Hispanic blacks, compared with 14% of non-Hispanic white and Mexican American individuals.

When considered by education level, the proportion of adults who reported having sex before age 15 was 27% among those with less than a high school education, compared with 19% among those with a high school education and 10% for those whose education extended beyond high school.

Men were more likely than were women to have had sex before age 15, and 29% of men reported having 15 or more female sexual partners in a lifetime, compared with 9% of women. …