Teens Had Sex for Drugs, Cash; Research Finds 4 Percent Did So

Article excerpt

Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

About 4 percent of the nation's teens say they have had sex in exchange for money or drugs, according to a study.

Extrapolated to the national youth population, this figure suggests that nearly 650,000 U.S. teens have engaged in this kind of behavior, possibly because they needed food, clothing, shelter or drugs.

But although some teens "may have engaged in sex exchange as a matter of survival on the streets, it is possible that many have engaged in this behavior for other reasons," said lead researcher Jessica M. Edwards, of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The study, published in the June issue of Sexually Transmitted Infections, is thought to be the first to look at sex-for-payment activities among the general teen population.

Sex exchange has been studied in adult substance abusers and subpopulations of homeless and runaway youths, Ms. Edwards said yesterday. But this is the first published study to examine the behavior within a general population of youth.

Exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, as well as to substance abuse and victimization are a few of the potential complications for teens.

Studies have estimated that people ages 15 to 24 account for 48 percent of new cases of sexually transmitted infections in the United States each year. …