The Sexual Practices of Adolescent Virgins

Genital Sexual Activities of High School Students Who Have Never Had Vaginal Intercourse

by Mark A. Schuster, Robert M. Bell, David E. Kanouse

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The purpose of this study was to determine whether high school-aged virgins engage in sexual practices that can transmit sexually transmitted diseases, including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Data were collected from an anonymous self-administered survey of 2026 urban students in 9th through 12th grades. Forty-seven percent of adolescents were virgins (42% of male adolescents and 53% of female adolescents). Of those who were virgins, 29% and 31% reported that, during the prior year, they had engaged in heterosexual masturbation of a partner and masturbation by a partner, respectively. The corresponding rates for heterosexual fellatio with ejaculation, cunnilingus, and anal intercourse were 9%, 10%, and 1%. Homosexual sexual activities were rare. Condom use for fellatio was also rare. Level of risk of virgins' sexual activities was associated with illicit substance use and other non-sexual risk behaviors, even after demographic variables had been controlled. Few high school-aged virgins engaged in anal intercourse, but many engaged in other genital activities. Some of these activities can transmit disease, and all can indicate a need for counseling about sexual decisionmaking, risk, and prevention.

Originally published in: American Journal of Public Health, v. 86, no. 11, November 1996, pp. 1570-1576.

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