Early Sexual Debut and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Adolescents and Young Adults
Christine E. Kaestle, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Carolyn Tucker Halpern, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
William Miller, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Carol Ford, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Objectives: Test the relationship between age of first vaginal intercourse and sexually transmitted infection (STI) and examine variation by current age, sex, race and ethnicity. Methods: A nationally representative sample of 9,844 respondents ages 18-26 was interviewed and tested for chlamydial infection, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis in Wave III of Add Health. Results: Early ages of debut were associated with higher odds of STIs compared to later debut, but the effect diminished with increasing age. For example, the odds of having an STI for an 18 year old with debut at age 13 were over twice those of an 18 year old with debut at age 17. In contrast, the odds of an STI among 24 year olds with debut at age 13 vs. debut at age 17 were the same. Conclusions: Earlier sexual debut is strongly associated with STIs for older adolescents but not for young adults over age 23.