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Fam Plann Perspect. 1998 Mar-Apr;30(2):67-72, 88.

Impact of a high school condom availability program on sexual attitudes and behaviors.

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  • 1RAND, Santa Monica, CA, USA.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

While making condoms available in high schools has provoked much debate, evidence on the actual effects of such programs on students' attitudes and behavior is sparse.

METHODS:

Prior to implementation of a condom availability program in a Los Angeles County high school, 1,945 students in grades 9-12 (98% of eligible students) completed a self-administered anonymous survey on their sexual behavior and on related knowledge and attitudes; one year later, 1,110 students (59% of eligible students) completed a follow-up survey.

RESULTS:

There was no significant change over time in the percentage of males or females who had ever had vaginal intercourse or who had had vaginal intercourse during the year prior to the survey. The percentage of males who reported using condoms every time they engaged in vaginal intercourse during the past year increased significantly, from 37% to 50%, and the percentage of males who reported condom use at recently initiated first vaginal intercourse increased from 65% to 80%. On the other hand, female respondents showed no significant change in their condom use. The self-reported likelihood of using a condom for vaginal intercourse during the following year did not change significantly for students who had had vaginal intercourse, but it increased dramatically for those who, had never had vaginal intercourse. The students' attitudes toward sex and condom use either remained the same between surveys or changed in a direction favoring less sexual behavior and greater risk prevention.

CONCLUSIONS:

The condom availability program appears not to have produced an increase in sexual activity among high school students, and it appears to have led to improved condom use among males. The apparent strong effect on students' intention to use condoms and on males' use at first vaginal intercourse suggests that such programs may have a particular impact on the least sexually experienced adolescents.

PIP:

By early 1995, at least 431 schools in 50 US school districts had established programs making condoms available to students in response to fears about HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and pregnancy among teenagers. Program opponents argue that such programs lead students to believe that schools condone their engagement in sexual activity, and are therefore encouraging them to have sex. Findings are presented from a pre/post-test evaluation of a school-based condom availability program in a Los Angeles County high school, based upon survey responses from 1945 students in grades 9-12. The 1945 students who provided survey data in April 1992 before the condom program began comprised 98% of eligible students. 1110 students, 59% of eligible students. completed a follow-up survey 1 year later after the program began. At baseline, 55.8% of the boys and 45.4% of girls had ever experienced vaginal intercourse. 1 year later, these percentages were 55.0% and 46.1%, respectively. There was also no significant change over time in the percentage of males or females who had had vaginal intercourse during the year before the survey. The percentage of males who reported using condoms every time they engaged in vaginal intercourse during the past year increased from 37% to 50%, while the percentage of males who reported condom use at recently initiated first vaginal intercourse increased from 65% to 80%. There was, however, no significant change among female respondents in their level of condom use. The self-reported likelihood of using a condom for vaginal intercourse during the following year did not change significantly for students who had had vaginal intercourse, but it did increase considerably for those who had never had vaginal intercourse. Respondents' attitudes toward sex and condom use either remained the same between surveys or changed in a direction favoring less sexual behavior and greater risk prevention.

PMID:
9561871
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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