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SD 4.4

NUMBER OF SEXUAL PARTNERS

The greater the number of sexual partners a person has, the greater the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. While trend data on the sexual behavior of teens are limited, one study indicates that the proportion of sexually active females living in metropolitan areas who have had six or more sexual partners doubled from 1971 to 1988.46

Differences by Gender. Male youth generally report a higher number of sexual partners than do female youth. In 1992, 31 percent of sexually active males and 18 percent of sexually active females ages 15-19 reported having six or more sexual partners. The number of sexual partners among sexually active females is concentrated at the lower end of the scale, with either one, two, or three partners reported (see Table SD 4.4.A). Among high school students surveyed in 1995, 21 percent of males reported having had four or more sexual partners compared to 14 percent of female students (see Table SD 4.4.B).

Differences by Race.47 Black youth are more likely to have had four or more sexual partners than their white or Hispanic peers: 36 percent versus 14 and 18 percent, respectively (see Table SD 4.4.B).

Differences by Age at First Intercourse. Age at first intercourse has a strong association with the number of sexual partners a person has over a lifetime (see Table SD 4.4.C). Among teens who were age 20 in 1992, 74 percent of males who had sexual intercourse at age 14 or younger had six or more partners during their lifetime, compared to 48 percent of those who initiated sex at ages 15 or 16, and 10 percent of those who did not have intercourse until age 17 or older. A similar pattern exists for females (see Figure SD 4.4).
 

Figure SD 4.4  
Percentage of Sexually Active Teens Age 20 With Six or More Lifetime Sexual Partners, by Age at First Intercourse: 1992 

Source: 1992 National Health Interview Survey - Youth Risk Behavior Supplement. Tabulations by Child Trends, Inc.
 
 

Table SD 4.4.A 
Sexual Partners: Percentage Distribution of Number of Lifetime Sexual Partners Among Sexually Active Teens Aged 15-19, by Gender, Race/Ethnicity and Poverty Level: 1992

             
     
One Partner
2-3 Partners
4-5 Partners
>6 Partners
     
—————
—————
—————
—————
Males
27
28
15
31
             
  White, Non-Hispanic
31
29
15
26
  Black, Non-Hispanic
12
26
17
45
  Hispanic
24
31
12
33
             
Below poverty 
22
23
15
40
At or above poverty
28
30
15
27
             
Females
36
32
15
18
             
  White, Non-Hispanic
36
30
16
18
  Black, Non-Hispanic
31
37
14
19
  Hispanic
43
34
13
10
             
Below poverty
34
33
15
18
At or above poverty
37
30
15
18
             
Note: Percents may not sum to 100 due to rounding.  

Source: 1992 National Health Interview Survey - Youth Risk Behavior Supplement, Tabulations by Child Trends, Inc.

 
 

Table SD 4.4.B 
Sexual Partners: Percentage of High School Students in Grades 9-12 Who Reported Having Four or More Sex Partners During Lifetime: 1993 and 1995

                 
     
——— 1993 ———
——— 1995 ———
     
Total
Male
Female
Total
Male
Female
     
———
———
———
———
———
———
Total 
19
22
15
18
21
14
                 
Grade
  9th
11
15
6
13
18
7
  10th
16
19
13
16
20
11
  11th
20
23
16
19
21
17
  12th
27
31
23
23
25
21
                 
Race/Ethnicity
  White, non-Hispanic
14
15
13
14
15
13
  Black, non-Hispanic
43
59
27
36
52
22
  Hispanic 
19
26
11
18
24
12
                 
Source: "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance- United States, 1993." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vol. 44, No. SS-1, 1995. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance - United States, 1995." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vol. 45, No. SS-4, 1996: and unpublished tabulations from L. Kann.

 
 

Table SD 4.4.C  
Sexual Partners: Percentage Distribution of Number of Lifetime Sexual Partners Among Sexually Active Teens Age 20, by Age at First Intercourse: 1992

               
   
———— Age at First Intercourse ————
     
14 or Younger
————
 
15 or 16
————
 
17 or Older
————
         
Males
  One Partner  
2
 
9
 
42
  2-3 Partners  
10
 
27
 
30
  4-5 Partners  
15
 
16
 
19
  6 or More Partners   
74
 
48
 
10
               
Females
  One Partner  
2
 
10
 
45
  2-3 Partners  
26
 
28
 
33
  4-5 Partners  
16
 
28
 
13
  6 or More Partners  
57
 
34
 
10
               
Note: Percents may not sum to 100 due to rounding.  

Source: 1992 National Health Interview Survey - Youth Risk Behavior Supplement, Tabulations by Child Trends, Inc.



46 Kost, K. and Forrest, J.D. 1992. "American women’s sexual behavior and exposure to risk of sexually transmitted disease." Family Planning Perspectives 24 (6): 244-254. Based on data from the National Surveys of Young Women (1971, 1976, and 1979) and the 1988 National Survey of Family Growth.

47 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.
 
 
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