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Educating Teens About Condom Use and Effectiveness

Protection without Promoting Promiscuity

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Updated October 07, 2006

Educating teens about condom use and effectiveness does not promote sexual activity.

One arguement used against condom education and condom distribution progrems is that providing condoms and condom education will increase condom use among teens and those groups targeted with the education programs. Many feel that condom distribution and education is a "license to have sex" especially for teens. Studies are surveys about the subject prove otherwise.
  • Five U.S. studies of specific sex education programs have demonstrated that HIV education and sex education that included condom information either had no effect upon the initiation of intercourse or resulted in delayed onset of intercourse.

  • Five studies of specific programs found that HIV/sex education did not increase frequency of intercourse, and a program that included development of skills to negotiate safer sexual behaviors actually resulted in a decrease in the number of youth who initiated sex.

  • A World Health Organization (WHO) review cited 19 studies of sex education programs that found no evidence that sex education leads to earlier or increased sexual activity in young people. In fact, five of the studies cited by WHO showed that such programs can lead to a delay or decrease in sexual activity.

  • In a recent study of youth in Los Angeles, an HIV prevention program focusing on condom use did not increase sexual activity or the number of sex partners. But condom use did increase among those who were already sexually active.

  • A 1987 study of young U.S. men who were sent a pamphlet discussing STDs with an offer of free condoms also did not find any increase in the youths’ reported sexual activity.

The data is clear and plentiful. Condom education is effective in decreasing STDs and HIV and did not give teens "a license to have sex" as opponents claim.

More Teen Safer Sex Resources

Source: United States Department of Health and Human Services; 2005.

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