Young People Report Abstinence But Still Test Positive for STDs

A study shows that some youth who say they are “abstinent” must be engaging in some kind of sexual activity, because they’re testing positive for sexually transmitted diseases.  About 10 percent of young adults tested in the study said that they were abstinent, and half of those claimed that they had never had sex at all.  Most of the subjects were women, and their average age was 22, so we’re not talking about teenagers – these were people who said that they had consciously chosen abstinence.

One of the study’s authors was quick to say that dishonesty was only one possible explanation for the discrepancy, and I’m sure she’s right.  The abysmal state of sex education in this country means that it’s entirely possible that the study’s subjects were engaging in what, strictly speaking, is sexual behavior, without realizing that they were doing so.  The emphasis on vaginal intercourse means that many don’t realize that oral sex can also result in the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.  The Guttmacher Institute reported last spring that many young people don’t view oral-genital contact as sexual activity.  The report’s authors point out,

“As oral-genital stimulation becomes increasingly disassociated from sex and instead thought of as ‘messing around,’ the authors speculate that people who engage in this behavior will become increasingly unmindful of the health risks.  They suggest that sex education programs can help minimize the risk by giving increased attention to the role of oral-genital stimulation in STD transmission and the appropriate preventive measures that can be taken.”

This obviously has serious implications for whether young people engage in risky behaviors, and puts this study in a more understandable context.  It’s not just that these young people are lying boldly to the researchers, the issue is far more nuanced. 

And once again, the solution goes back to sex education, and how we can teach children and youth about sex in a way that makes them understand the risks of various activites, and gives them the tools to make healthy decisions.  This is especially if they do decide to become abstinent, so they don’t end up with a sexually transmitted disease, which I’m sure was extremely disturbing and humiliating for the study participants.

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Lauren B.

This is the utmost stupidity! Sex is sex; intercourse is one possible way of having it among many. Kids don't learn this in sex ed? What are they learning then? We are doing our kids a terrible disservice by not giving them full and clear information.

Dianne Lane
Dianne Lane5 years ago


Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

I would think that it's more that they come from homes that emphasize abstinence because of religious training. If you don't "do it," you're not really having sex. If your hymen is still intact, then you're still a "good girl." So sad, so sick. And then these people will go into marriages all messed up about how good sex can be, instead of having a fulfilled sexual life.

I know religion wasn't mentioned, but having been around these kind of people here in Texas, they're so PROUD of being virgins, like that's the most important thing. WHEN NOT GETTING PREGNANT AND RUINING YOUR FUTURE, WHEN YOU SHOULD BE COMPLETING COLLEGE, IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.

John Doe
james rico6 years ago

lynn h i use only public pc/s and only have a limited amount of time as i go to other sites as well and post on other topics as well so if i am running near cut off time i may forget. i am always in hurry here

Lynn H.
Lynn H6 years ago

Oh my goodness "John Doe".... how can you write that much without a single punctuation mark? Please please please look up what sentences are and how to punctuate them! You may have some very good points in there but I can't make my eyes focus on the endless string of words in yours post!

Marie K.
Marie K6 years ago

Hm, could some of these women have suffered abuse and blocked it from their memory, and never been previously checked for std's? My friend is a pediatric nurse based on the high number of positive tests for std's and pregnancies among young children, the actual sexual abuse rates are astronomically higher than what is officially reported.

John Doe
james rico6 years ago

read arnold erhet read bechamp there is such a thing as pleamorphism where when the body becomes toxic and acid do to eating animal foods and sugar std germs will form as well as many others there is progression i think its from the viral particals sticking together and the germ is formed allopaths denie this because they do not want you to be proactive they like to keep these things a mystery so they can control you with their toxic drugs but never getting the body clean so it does not have a need to make these germs the germs are natures scavengers the live of of the pus and rotting mucus that is being formed from haveing an impure blood stream of course i exspect lots of medical people seeing this saying its not truebechamp was the rival of pastuir who said that the germs were the cause of disease but bechamp said no it is the soil meaning the acid condition of the body natural healers know this truth and cure people by fasting them vegan diets herbs ect. allopaths will give drugs to kill the germs but erhet says that can lead to cancer in later years the allopaths just want to give drugs vaccines operations but not tell the truth as that would exspose their corrupt system of lie maybe those teens are eating fast foods and getting lots of sugur which is an immune surpresser they then become a petri dish as sugur feeds the developing germs if stds were only cought the human race would have ended hundreds of years ago even native americans went in sweat lodges to detox

Kathryn Terhune Cotton

Well Bill Clinton seemed convinced that getting a blow job under the desk was not having 'sexual relations with that woman '. If the President said so, it must be right. BTW, I voted for the Clinton's in every election - Bill and Hillary... and I have no regrets. Bill might have had a little trouble keeping it zipped, but if that is a prerequisite for the Presidency, then, would half of these men ever have qualified? Think John Kennedy! What business is it of ours who slept with whom. If their spouses can deal with it, why do we have to throw out the baby with the bathwater? The question we should focus on is 'Are they a good leader'? Hell, ol' W. was probably as loyal to Laura as any man has ever been... and look where he lead us. I mean, can you say 'monster deficit'? How about 'stock and housing market crashes'? 'Illegal war?' 'Massive unemployment'? If a person having an extra-marital liaison is what it takes to run the country, then give me a perv any election! Please!! As long as they support comprehensive sex ed in the class rooms. It seems it is sorely needed.

Petra Luna
Petra Luna7 years ago

I think abstinence only programs are not enough, and if you're going to teach that, make sure that the students know that they can still get STDs in other ways aside from sex. And make sure that people know that oral sex, anal sex and manual sex is still sex.

Hillary B.
Hillary G. B7 years ago

To those who criticized my assertion that herpes 1 is not spread by sexual intercourse and Type 2 is, I was making a generalization. After reading the comments, I checked online, and it appears that I was mainly right, but that of course there are exceptions to every rule. Type 2 herpes is USUALLY spread by sex, though Type 1 herpes can on occasion cause genital herpes. However, I think my post still remains mostly valid, b/c I think people should know that sexual intercourse remains the most surefire way to get genital herpes. However, I assumed people could reason that if I was saying you can get herpes from one type of sexual contact, then you could get it from all kinds. Oopsie. I know that was the main thrust (pun intended) of the article. I was trying to make it clear that you can get Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (cold sores) without any sexual contact. While I see the points that have been made, I believe you are blurring the definitions of HPV-1/HPV-2 to the point of making them non-useful. The definitions have been set (not by me) I believe to help people understand the majority of cases. I found that Wikipedia & WebMd have the same information regarding these definitions, and would think that those definitions would be satisfactory for most. It would be great if an actual medical professional would weigh in on this subject.