Indicator 9.1.1: "Abstinence of never-married young men and women."


Percent of never married young women and men aged 15–24 who have never had sex.

Measurement Tools

Population-based surveys such as DHS/AIS, RHS

What It Measures

This indicator is Part 1 of a composite ABC indicator that provides information on important aspects of sexual behavior. This particular indicator describes the proportion of never married young people surveyed who have never had sex, thus the prevalence of virginity among young people. Looking at this prevalence within narrow age ranges (15–16, 17–18, 19–20, 21–22, and 23–24, for example, or better yet, in single ages) across time allows program managers to see if the age at first sex is moving.

How to Measure It

Respondents (15–24 year olds) are asked if they have ever had sex. The indicator should be reported separately for men and women. If the indicator is calculated for groupings of ages that are broader than the period of time that has passed, the indicator will not be able to reflect changes that may in fact be occurring. It is therefore recommended that this indicator be reported by single age.

Strengths and Limitations

Abstinence from sex, being faithful to one partner, and using condoms are the ways of preventing HIV infection that form the central message of USG programs. This indicator describes the extent to which abstinence is practiced among youth. In some settings, the proportion of those aged 20–24 who are never married will be very low, at least among women, and it may not be appropriate to construct the indicator for this age group in these cases. The other parts of the ABC composite should be considered as additional indicators as the composite shows movement of youth among the different behaviors if collected across time. Considering all six aspects of behavior together makes sense, as each component affects the other and each component is of progressively riskier behavior.