WASHINGTON (ABP) — When true love doesn't wait, it also apparently doesn't use a condom.
That's one conclusion from a scientific study of teenagers who made pledges to abstain from sexual intercourse before marriage. Researchers announced the study's results March 9 at a national conference on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
The study of about 12,000 teenagers ages 12-18 was conducted by researchers from Yale and Columbia universities.
The study did find some good news for those who support sex education that emphasizes total abstinence: Teenagers who make pledges to abstain tend to delay the onset of sexual activity and have fewer sexual partners than their peers who do not make such pledges.
However, it also found that abstinence-pledging youths tend to get married earlier than their counterparts, are less likely to use condoms when they break their pledges and have STD rates statistically similar to teens who don't make pledges to abstain.
The STD rate for white pledgers was 2.8 percent, while their non-pledging counterparts had a 3.5 percent rate of infection. African-American teens who pledged abstinence had an 18.1 percent rate, while non-pledging blacks had a 20.3 percent rate. For Asian-Americans, teens who pledged to abstain actually had a higher STD rate than non-pledging Asians — 10.5 percent versus 5.6 percent.
According to the study, only 40 percent of boys who pledged to abstain but had sex anyway used condoms, while 59 percent of boys who made no pledge used condoms. In addition, only 14 percent of girls who made pledges had been tested for STDs in the previous year, while 28 percent of non-pledging girls had been.
Researchers also concluded that 88 percent of pledgers ended up having sex before marriage — compared to 99 percent of the non-pledgers.
The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.