Teenagers more likely to practise safe sex

American teenagers are not as reckless as some people might think when it comes to sex, and are much more likely than people over 40 to use condoms, a study suggests.

One in four acts of vaginal intercourse involve condom use and the proportion rises to one in three among those who are single, the survey by researchers at Indiana University found. The internet poll of sexual behaviour, sponsored by the maker of Trojan prophylactics, questioned 5,865 Americans aged 14 to 94. The researchers found condom use was higher among black and Hispanic Americans than among white people, and lowest among people over 40. They also found that, in the past 20 years, most adults had moved far from the traditional notion of sex as vaginal intercourse. Respondents reported engaging in 41 sexual practices including oral and anal sex.

The findings, presented in nine peer-reviewed studies in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, debunked stereotypes about teenagers being reckless about sex. Only 14 per cent of 14-year-old boys reported any kind of sexual interaction with a partner in the prior three months, but almost 40 per cent of 17-year-old males did.

Dr Dennis Fortenberry, of Indiana University, said many teenagers reached 18 with no sexual experience, and for those who did have sex, condom use was routine.

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