In the study, 43% of unmarried teen girls and 42% of unmarried teen boys reported having had intercourse by age 19. Compare that to 2002, the last year the CDC published such a report, when the numbers were 51.1% and 60.4%, respectively.
Other highlights of the report:
- The birth rate for girls 15-19 was 39/1,000, the lowest ever recorded in the United States.
- Use of contraception with first intercourse increased by 3 percentage points for both girls and boys (to 78% for girls and 85% for boys).
- The percentage of teenage girls who have had sex was the same for all ethnic groups. This is the first time this has been reported; the change is mainly due to fewer African-American girls reporting having had intercourse.
BUT (and yes, there is always a “but”)…
Before we go applauding ourselves for a public health job done well, consider these factoids:
- The teen birth rate in Canada is less than half of ours – 14/1,000; Germany’s is 10/1,000, and Italy’s rate is less than one-fifth of the U.S. at 7/1,000
- If 78% of teen girls used contraception with their first intercourse, then by definition 22% did not. That’s a lot of unprotected girls.
- Chlamydia and gonorrhea are more common in teen girls than in any other age group.
- Syphilis rates, though still lower in teens than in other age groups, have increased every year since the early 2000s.
So…nice to see progress, but still a long way to go.