Exchange Sex Among High School Students — Washington, DC, 2017

  • Exchange sex is the exchange of something of value for sex. It is a risky behavior that can increase a person’s chances of getting HIV or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). We don’t know much about exchange sex among youth in the United States since most research has focused on adults.
  • We investigated exchange sex among high school students across the District of Columbia (DC) and found that 7.4% or about 1 in 14 students had exchanged sex. We also found that students who had been kicked out, abandoned, or had run away from home were at greater risk for exchange sex.
  • Programs that provide services to youth with unstable housing should consider incorporating sexual health services to address exchange sex and the increased risk for HIV and STDs. Exchange sex should also be considered among the risk behaviors targeted by HIV and STD prevention programs administered to youth.
Quote from the Disease Detective

“This is the first study to quantify exchange sex among youth in DC. We found about 1 in 14 DC high school students have exchanged sex and that specific groups, such as those with unstable housing or who use illicit drugs, are at the most risk. At a time when the decline in annual HIV infections has stalled and STD infections, especially among youth, are on the rise, these findings are critical to informing HIV and STD prevention efforts in DC and perhaps in other urban centers throughout the US.”

– Sara Head, PhD, MPH, EIS Class of 2017

study findings presentation[PNG - 456 KB]

EIS Officer Sara Head, PhD, MPH, presents study findings to epidemiologists at the District of Columbia Department of Health.

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

Conference Information
Sara Head


Sara Head, PhD, MPH,
EIS Class of 2017
District of Columbia Department of Health

Education: PhD: Emory University, 2012
MPH: University of Kentucky, 2007
BA: Ohio Wesleyan University, 2004
University of Louisville, 2002
Universite du Quebec a Chicoutimi, 2002

Work Experience: Survey Manager, Technical Specialist, ICF International, Inc., Rockville, Maryland, 2012-Present
Research Assistant; Teaching Assistant, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, 2007-2012
Research Assistant, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, 2005-2007
Volunteer Coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTA: Kentucky Refugee Ministries, Louisville, Kentucky, 2004-2005

Volunteer Experience: Librarian, Alliance Francaise of
Washington, DC, 2012-2015