Over 3 Percent of U.S. Teens Have Traded Sex for Money, Drugs

Researchers say this statistic may underestimate real prevalence

THURSDAY, Aug. 10, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- More than three percent of American teenagers say they've exchanged sex for money or drugs in the past, according to data collected from more than 13,000 adolescents nationwide.

In fact, "the prevalence of exchanging sex reported here may be a conservative estimate," said researchers at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Chapel Hill, N.C.

They reported the findings in the September issue of the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Overall, 3.5 percent of the teens said they'd traded sex for money or drugs. Nearly two-thirds of those who did so were boys.

Black teens, those who lived in a non-traditional family, those who had parents with low levels of education, and those who had used drugs at some point in their lives were most likely to exchange sex for drugs or money.

Teens who were depressed or who had run away from home within the previous year were also more likely to have done so.

Many of the teens who reported trading sex for money or drugs had had a same-sex experience and had been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease.

About 10 percent of the boys had forced someone else to have sex with them, while about one in six girls had been forced to have sex.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians advises teens to take time to make the right decision about sex.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, Aug. 8, 2006
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