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Am J Public Health. 1990 Mar;80(3):295-9.

Beliefs about AIDS, use of alcohol and drugs, and unprotected sex among Massachusetts adolescents.

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Social and Behavioral Sciences Section, Boston University School of Public Health, MA 02118-2389.


In August 1988, 1,773 Massachusetts 16-19-year-olds were surveyed by telephone using anonymous random digit dialing; response rate 82 percent. Logistic regression tested whether alcohol and drug use, perceived susceptibility to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), severity of HIV if infected, effectiveness of condoms in preventing infection, barriers to condom use, and behavioral cues such as exposure to media or personal communication about acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) were independently related to condom use. Among sexually active respondents, (61 percent of those interviewed) 31 percent reported always using condoms. Respondents who believed condoms are effective in preventing HIV transmission and worried they can get AIDS were 3.1 and 1.8 times, respectively, more likely to use condoms all the time. Respondents who carried condoms and who had discussed AIDS with a physician were 2.7 and 1.7 times, respectively, more likely to use them. Those who believed condoms do not reduce sexual pleasure and would not be embarrassed if asked to use them were 3.1 and 2.4 times, respectively, more likely to use condoms. Teens who averaged five or more drinks daily or used marijuana in the previous month were 2.8 and 1.9 times, respectively, less likely to use condoms. Among respondents who drink and use drugs, 16 percent used condoms less often after drinking and 25 percent after drug use. Those counseling adolescents about HIV should assess and discuss beliefs outlined in the Health Belief Model, as well as their alcohol and drug use.

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