Four Surveys on Teen Sex Reinforce Data

Article excerpt

A comparison of four major surveys of teen sexual behavior shows that they often draw the same conclusions.

This is reassuring to public health officials, who are planning responses to changes in teen sexual behavior, such as increases in condom use and declines in sexual activity, teen pregnancy and use of the birth-control pill.

"Identifying similar trends" among four national surveys "would demonstrate that these data systems are reliable," said a new study, published in the just-released July/August issue of Alan Guttmacher Institute's Family Planning Perspectives.

The changes in teen sexual practices "indicate shifts toward safer and more self-protective behaviors," said the study. "The fact that several surveys show these changes increases our confidence that these trends are real."

Teen sexual health has long been a paramount issue in this country. Teens have more unintended pregnancies that end in abortion than adults, and sexually active teens have some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted disease, noted the study, which was led by John S. Santelli, an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Public health officials have urged teens to delay sexual activity, practice abstinence, and use condoms and other contraceptives if they are sexually active.

In their cross-checking of survey findings, Mr. Santelli and his colleagues found that sexual activity was markedly down among males and unchanged or little changed among females. …