During the 1980s, efforts increased to alert the public to the dangers of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancy, yet these problems have increased. Adolescents and young adults have been especially hard hit. Pregnancy and birth rates among teenagers are at their highest levels in two decades.
Research has demonstrated that consistent condom use is an effective way to prevent the transmission of HIV and other STDs and in the prevention of pregnancy.
Analyses of the Urban Institute's National Survey of Adolescent Males (NSAM) show that although most sexually experienced teenage males have used condoms at least once, many do not use them consistently. Only 35 percent reported using a condom every time they had sex in the past year. But teenage males use condoms more than older men, and between 1979 and 1988 reported condom use among male teenagers doubled. These patterns indicate that teenagers are a promising target population for condom promotion efforts since they appear more ready than older men to change their behaviors.
Unfortunately, condom use among young men appears to have plateaued since 1988. Comparisons of 1988 and 1991 NSAM data show no change in rates of use.
Attitudes Related to Use
Condom use is higher among young men who worry more frequently about AIDS when the effects of other factors are held constant. Between 1988 and 1991, however, sexually experienced teenagers showed declines in the frequency with which they worried about AIDS, how serious they thought AIDS was, and the likelihood they would get AIDS. These reductions were associated with lower levels of condom use.
Male teenagers who think they will be embarrassed buying or using condoms, use them less consistently than those with higher embarrassment thresholds. If they think that the use of a condom will reduce the physical pleasure associated with intercourse, they are even less likely to use...
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