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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
UNITED KINGDOM: One in Four Young Women Report Having Underage Sex
Sarah Boseley
December 21, 2011
The Guardian (London) (12.16.11) - Wednesday, December 21,

Results from the Health Survey for England indicate a greater proportion of young women report having been sexually active before age 16 than in any previous generation.

Among respondents ages 16-24, approximately 27 percent of females said they had had sex before reaching 16, while 22 percent of males said they were under 16 at first sex. For both males and female, the median age of sexual debut was 17. Twenty-six percent of females and 32 percent of males said they had not yet had sex.

One in five sexually active 16- to 24-year-olds, 27 percent of males and 13 percent of females, reported having had 10 or more sex partners. Seventeen percent of females and 24 percent of males reported only having had one partner.

"Society has changed dramatically in the last 50 years, and the nature of relationships has too," said Rebecca Findlay, spokesperson for the sexual health charity FPA. "Education and information safeguard the sexual health needs of young people and help them resist having sex before they're ready, which is why, given this data, there's an overwhelming need for statutory sex and relationship education in schools." While the results tend to mirror those of other research on the issue, "we must remember that most young people under 16 aren't sexually active," said Findlay.