This study examines the prevalence of select sexual behaviors and experiences among Asian high school students in the U.S. and compares them to students of other race/ethnicities, to better understand the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) patterns and needs of this population.
We pooled data from the 2013, 2015 and 2017 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a school-based survey of US students in grades 9-12 (N=42,854). Logistic regression was used to identify differences between Asian students and students of other racial/ethnic groups on measures of sexual activity, contraceptive use and sexual violence overall and stratified by sex.
Compared to their peers, a significantly smaller proportion of Asian students reported ever having sex, being currently sexually active and having multiple sexual partners in their lifetime. A significantly smaller proportion of Asian students reported using any contraceptive method at last sex (77.8%) compared to White students (88.2%), or a prescription method at last sex (16.1%) compared to White (34.3%) and other race (28.0%) students. Asian students reported fewer experiences of forced sexual intercourse (5.1%) compared to Black (7.8%), Hispanic/Latino (7.6%), and other race (11.2%) students.
These findings demonstrate distinct patterns in Asian students’ sexual health behaviors compared to their peers’ and future research should examine the underlying drivers of these differences.
This analysis contributes data on sexual activity, contraceptive use and sexual violence among Asian high school students in the U.S., filling a critical gap in the literature. This information can inform culturally competent and inclusive education and health practices that support the SRH needs of Asian and all adolescents.