The CDC has released a report today about sexuality in persons age 15 to 44. The information is based on a survey in 2002 of in-person, face-to-face interview with a national sample of 12,571 men and women. The process involved an interviewer but the sex related questions were entered into a laptop computer without telling the answers to the interviewer.
To me, the methodology seems pretty sound and the survey size is impressive.
The media has focused so far on a trend that suggests that younger persons are engaging in oral sex as a means of delaying vaginal sex. However, several statistics relating to our community are seen from the results.
Of particular interest, is how people identify their sexual orientation. Men said:
3.9 Something else
1.8 Did not report
For women, the breakout is:
3.8 Something else
1.8 Did not report
Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing what was “something else”. A calculated guess would include transgendered people, asexuals, and those who are comfortable with “gay” or “lesbian” but not with “homosexual”. I assume that some of them would also be those who identify as “ex-gay”. Interestingly, there is 1.8% of the population that simply froze and were afraid to push a button.
Perhaps the most conclusive thing that can be taken from the results is that there is about 10% of the population that does not consider itself heterosexual. That’s a larger number than I expected.
When the question is put in terms of attraction, men responded:
92.2 Only female
3.9 Mostly female
0.7 Mostly male
1.5 Only male
0.7 Not sure
85.7 Only males
10.2 Mostly males
0.8 Mostly females
0.7 Only females
0.8 Not sure
When the question is determined by sexual activity:
6.0 percent of men have had oral or anal sex with another man in their life, and 2.9 have in the past year. This, to some extent, is determined by age:
4.5 of 15-19 y.o.; 2.4 in the last year
5.5 of 20-24 y.o.; 3.0 in the last year
6.5 of 24-44 y.o.; 3.0 in the last year
11.2 percent of women have had same-sex contact though it is not as specific as for men. 4.4 percent had same-sex contact in the past year. This is a fascinating finding in that fewer women consider themselves to be gay. This skewing may partly be a result of the more specific nature of the question to men.
Some information is presented about the number of sex-partners in the past year but it isn’t easy to extrapolate what a gay person’s median number might be. What was available was:
0.7 percent of men and 1.1 percent of women had one sex partner during the last year and that person was of the same sex.
0.9 percent of men and 0.2 percent of women had 2 or more partners of the same sex.
1.0 percent of men and 3.1 percent of women had sex with both men and women in the past year.
This suggests that gay men are not a promiscuous as anti-gay people claim. Nearly as many gay men had only one partner as had more than one. And lesbians, as is consistent with the stereotype, tend not to be promiscuous at all.
Also, I think we can assume that about 2.3% of guys are gay and between 1.3 and 1.5% of women ar lesbians whether defined by identity or by attraction.
An encouraging statistic is that for those who engaged in only same-sex activity in the past year, multiple partners were statistically invisible for men under 20 and women under 25.
Some more fun facts are:
40 percent of guys and 35 percent of women have had anal sex with an opposite-sex partner
90 percent of guys and 88 percent of women have had oral sex with an opposite-sex partner
Of men who had ever had same-sex contact, 60% have tested for HIV (29% in the last year) while only 46% of men without same-sex activity have tested (14% in the past year).
About 17% of men who have had same-sex contact have been treated for non-HIV sexually transmitted infection while 7% of men without same-sex contact have been treated for a non-HIV STI.
Of males who had ever had sexual contact with another male, 91% used a condom in their most recent sex. Of those without any same-sex contact, 36% used a condom in their last sex.
During 2002, 49% of HIV infections were through gay sex, 34% through vaginal sex, 15% through injection drug use, with 2% other.
7.3% of Latinos and 7.5% of black men identified their orientation as “something else” and 3 to 4 percent of each did not answer the question.
49.1% of men who have had oral or anal sex with another man consider themselves to be heterosexual.