- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 23, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — The average American man has sex with seven women during his lifetime, compared to four male sexual partners for the average woman, according to a new federal survey that used high-tech methods to solicit candid answers on sexual activity and illegal drug use.

Men are far more apt to play the field when it comes to sex, the survey found — 29 percent of them reported having 15 or more female sexual partners in a lifetime, while only 9 percent of women reported having sex with 15 or more men.

The survey, released yesterday, was based on data collected from 1999 to 2002 for the National Center for Health Statistics, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In previous federal surveys on these topics, participants were asked questions in face-to-face interviews; the CDC believes that caused underreporting of behaviors that might be viewed negatively.

This time, data was gathered from 6,237 adults, ages 20 to 59, in what are called computer-assisted self-interviews — a method designed to provide complete privacy and produce more honest answers.

“This is the first time we’ve used this technique,” said Dr. Kathryn Porter, who served as medical officer for the survey. “The participants have a headset on, they hear questions, they touch the screen with responses. There’s no one else in the room and they can take as long as they want.”

Among the other findings:

c About 96 percent of U.S. adults have had sex.

c Sixteen percent of adults first had sex before age 15, while 15 percent abstained from sex until at least age 21.

c Six percent of blacks abstained from sex until age 21 or older, fewer than Mexican-Americans (17 percent) or non-Hispanic whites (15 percent).

c Black men and women were more likely to report having 15 or more partners in a lifetime (46 percent and 13 percent, respectively) than other racial or ethnic groups.

c Twenty-five percent of women and 17 percent of men reported having no more than one partner of the other sex in their lifetime.

c Twenty-six percent of men and 17 percent of women have tried cocaine or other street drugs (not including marijuana) at some time in their life. Seven percent of men and 4 percent of women had done so within the past year .

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