Encyclopedia of AIDS

Living Edition
| Editors: Thomas J. Hope, Douglas Richman, Mario Stevenson

Delayed Sexual Debut

  • Erin Smith
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-9610-6_100-1


Early sexual debut, often defined as first sexual intercourse at age 13 or younger, is associated with multiple negative health outcomes, including subsequent sexual risk taking, unintentional pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections (STI). Evidence-based behavioral interventions (EBI) aimed at delaying first sex can be delivered to youth as well as parents and are part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy, especially when implemented by communities where the prevalence of HIV is high and many young teens are sexually active.

Why Delay Early Sexual Debut?

According to data from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 6 % of teens in the USA report they first had sexual intercourse before they were 13 years of age; by 9th grade, 38 % of males and 28 % of females say they have had sex (Centers for Disease Control 2012). Compared to peers who delay initiation until they are older, young adolescent females are less likely to use condoms or other contraception not only...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Advocates for Youth. Parent–child communication programs. 2011. http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/publications-a-z/1836-parent–child-communication-programs. Accessed Oct 2012.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth risk behavior surveillance-United States, 2005. Surveillance summaries. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2006;55(SS-5):1–108.Google Scholar
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. School health policies and programs study 2006. 2007. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/shpps/2006/factsheets/pdf/FS_PregnancyPrevention_SHPPS2006.pdf. Accessed Oct 2012, p. 1–162.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth risk behavior surveillance-United States, 2011. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2012;61(SS-4).Google Scholar
  5. Eisenberg ME, Bernat DH, Bearinger LH, Resnick MD. Support for comprehensive sexuality education: perspectives from parents of school-age youth. J Adolesc Health. 2008;42(4):352–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Family Health International. Young people most at risk of HIV: a meeting report and discussion paper from the Interagency Youth Working Group, U.S. Agency for International Development, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS Inter-Agency Task Team on HIV and Young People, and FHI. 2010. http://www.unfpa.org/webdav/site/global/shared/iattyp/docs/Young%20People%20Most%20at%20Risk%20of%20HIV.pdf. Accessed Oct 2012.
  7. Guide to Community Preventive Services. Sexual behavior: youth development behavioral interventions coordinated with community service to reduce sexual risk behaviors in adolescents. 2007. www.thecommunityguide.org/hiv/youthdev-community.html. Accessed Oct 2012.
  8. Hacker KA. Listening to youth: teen perspectives on pregnancy prevention. J Adolesc Health. 2000;26(4):279–88.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Herman-Giddens ME, Steffes J, Harris D, Slora E, Hussey M, et al. Secondary sexual characteristics in boys: data from the pediatric research in office settings network. J Am Acad Pediatr. 2012;130(5):e1058–68.Google Scholar
  10. Institute of Medicine, Committee on HIV Prevention Strategies in the United States, Institute of Medicine. No time to lose: getting more from HIV prevention. Washington, DC: The Institute; 2000.Google Scholar
  11. Kaiser Family Foundation. Family communication: a series of national surveys of teens about sex. 2002. http://www.teenpregnancy.org. Accessed Oct 2012.
  12. Kaiser Family Foundation. Sex education in America: general public/parents survey. Washington, DC: Kaiser Family Foundation; 2004.Google Scholar
  13. Kellam SG, Wang W, Mackenzie AC, Brown CH, Ompad DC, Or F, Ialongo NS, Poduska JM, Windham A. The impact of the Good Behavior Game, a universal classroom-based preventive intervention in first and second grades, on high-risk sexual behaviors and drug abuse and dependence disorders into young adulthood. Prev Sci. 2014;15(1):6–18.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Kirby D. Emerging answers: research findings on programs to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy; 2007.Google Scholar
  15. Kirby D, Laris BA, Rolleri L. Impact of sex and HIV education programs on sexual behaviors of youth in developing and developed countries. Youth Research Working Paper No. 2. Family Health International, YouthNet Program. 2005. http://www.iywg.org/system/files/sexedworkingpaper2.pdf. Accessed Oct 2012.
  16. Mathematica Policy Research, Child Trends. Identifying programs that impact teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and associated sexual risk behaviors: review protocol version 2.0. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health. 2012. http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/tpp/eb-programs-review-v2.pdf. Accessed Oct 2012.
  17. McKee D, Karasz A, Weber CM. Health care seeking among urban minority adolescent girls: the crisis at sexual debut. Ann Fam Med. 2004;2:549–54.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Miller KS, Levin ML, Whitaker DJ, Xu X. Patterns of condom use among adolescents: the impact of mother-adolescent communication. Am J Public Health. 1998;88(10):1542–4.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Moore KA, Miller BC, Sugland BW, Morrison DR, Glei DA, Blumenthal C. Beginning too soon: adolescent sexual behavior, pregnancy and parenthood: a review of research and interventions. Washington, DC: Child Trends; 2001.Google Scholar
  20. Noar SM, Palmgreen P, Chabot M, Dobransky N, Zimmerman RS. A 10-year systematic review of HIV/AIDS mass communication campaigns: have we made progress? J Health Commun. 2009;14:15–42.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. O’Donnell BL, O’Donnell CR, Stueve A. Early sexual initiation and subsequent sex-related risks among urban minority youth: the reach for health study. Fam Plann Perspect. 2001;33(6):268–75.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Santelli J, Ott MA, Lyon M, Rogers J, Summers D, et al. Abstinence-only education policies and programs: a position paper of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. J Adolesc Health. 2006;38(1):83–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, New York (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lydia O’Donnell, Ed.D., Education Development Center, Inc.WalthamUSA