This took way too long to find its way to me, and much of it is not terribly surprising:
Young adults who take virginity pledges as adolescents are as likely to be infected with sexually transmitted diseases as those who do not take virginity pledges, Yale and Columbia University researchers report in the March 18 issue of Journal of Adolescent Health.
The research reiterates what was already pretty well established about abstinence pledges:
One reason is that sexually active pledgers were less likely to use condoms at first sex than non-pledgers. Because most pledgers are sexually active (88 percent of the pledgers), lower rates of condom use increases STD risk. [Hannah] Brückner, [assistant professor of sociology at Yale University,] and [Peter] Bearman, [professor of sociology at Columbia University,] also note that pledgers were less likely to seek and obtain STD-related health care, possibly because of increased stigmatization or misperception of infection risk among pledgers. Because pledgers are less likely to be diagnosed and treated for STD infections, they may be more likely to have those infections for longer periods than non-pledgers.
And, of course, going untreated raises the likelihood they’ll pass their nasty social diseases onto someone else. Something I hadn’t heard before was that pledgers were more likely to engage in non-vaginal sex:
Pledging may lead some young adults to engage in alternative sexual behaviors in order to preserve their virginity. Among virgins–those who have not had vaginal intercourse–male pledgers are four times more likely to have anal sex; male and female pledgers are six times more likely to have oral sex than non-pledgers. Condom use for anal sex is very low; for oral almost non-existent. Therefore, Brückner said, virgin pledger engagement in riskier behavior may be a factor in higher than expected STD rates.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services has put up a new website which, according to the The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood, “presents biased and inaccurate advice to parents on how to talk to their children about sex and emphasizes abstinence.”
Said Bill Pierced, a spokesman for the Department, “One thing we do know about abstinence is that if you practice it, you will not have an unintended pregnancy or risk catching a sexually transmitted disease.”