School-Based Condom Availability Programs

April 1, 1998
Sexual Activity and Condom Use Among Adolescents 
  • Eighty-five percent of male teenagers and 76% of female teenagers in the United States have had sexual intercourse by the age of 19. The percentage of sexually active students increases dramatically with each year of age -- from 22% for females and 27% for males at age 15 to 51% for females and 59% for males at age 17.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and the National Press Foundation, "Teen Sex, Contraception and Pregnancy -- Fact Sheet," 1998.

  • Each year, American teenagers bear over half a million children, the vast majority of them unplanned; abortions terminate an almost equal number of adolescent pregnancies. 

Deborah Anne Dawson, "The Effects of Sex Education on Adolescent Behavior," 18 Family Planning Perspectives 162 (1986). 

  • Among sexually active students, only 49.4% of male students and 40% of female students report that they or their partner used a condom during their last sexual intercourse.

"Sexual Behavior Among High School Students--United States, 1990," CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, January 3, 1992.

  • In evaluating strategies for encouraging condom use among teenagers, teens say guaranteeing confidentiality (78%), making them free (75%), and making them easy to obtain (70%), would be most likely to influence them and their peers to use condoms.

Louis Harris and Associates, American Teens Speak: Sex, Myth, TV, and Birth Control (Highlights of Survey Findings) 1986.

Adolescents Are at Risk for HIV/AIDS 
  • In 1988, AIDS was the seventh leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year-olds, and 21% of all AIDS cases in the United States were found in young adults ages 20 to 29. The eight to ten year latency period from infection to development of AIDS suggests that most of these infections occurred during adolescence.

Karen Hein, "Lessons from New York City on HIV/AIDS in Adolescents," N.Y.S. J. Med., Mar. 1990, at 143, 145.

  • The New York State AIDS Advisory Council -- made up of physicians, educators, and community leaders -- recommended that schools make available condoms in a confidential manner to all sexually active students. Citing a growing rate of HIV infection among adolescents, the council reported that schools are imperative sources for HIV prevention education and teen health care.

New York State AIDS Advisory Council, "Illusions of Immortality: The Confrontation of Adolescence and AIDS," 1991.

School-Based Condom Availability Programs Are Effective 
  • Among students in Baltimore who participated in a school-based pregnancy prevention program that linked sex education with free medical and contraceptive services (including condoms) at an adjacent clinic, the pregnancy rate declined 30.1% after 28 months in the program. 

Laurie S. Zabin et al., "Evaluation of a Pregnancy Prevention Program for Urban Teenagers," 18 Family Planning Perspectives 119, 122-24 (1986).

  • After nine Philadelphia high schools opened condom availability centers, the proportion of students using a condom at last intercourse increased from 52% to 58%. In schools where the centers were most heavily used, the proportion of students who had unprotected intercourse declined from 14% to 6%. 

Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., et al., "Does Condom Availability Make a Difference? An Evaluation of Philadelphia's Health Resource Centers," 29 Family Planning Perspectives 123, 125-26 (1997).

  • A study comparing New York City students who had access to condoms in their schools with Chicago students who did not revealed that 60.8% of the New York students used a condom at last intercourse, but only 55.5% of the Chicago students did so. 

Sally Guttmacher, et al., "Condom Availability in New York City Public High Schools: Relationships to Condom Use and Sexual Behavior," 87 American Journal of Public Health 1427, 1430 (1997).

Alternative Sources of Condoms are Less Effective 
  • A recent survey conducted in Washington D.C. indicated that only 13% of stores marked where condoms were shelved, and in another 33% condoms were kept behind the counter. Teenage female respondents indicated that 40% of the time, their requests for condoms were met with resistance or condemnation from store clerks.

Quarterly Newsletter, Center for Population Options, Winter/Spring, 1991.

  • Only 14% of teenagers make their first visit to a family planning clinic before their first intercourse. Fear that their parents will find out they are sexually active is the major reason most teens delay visiting a clinic until a year or more after starting intercourse.

Laurie S. Zabin, et al., "Why They Delay: A Study of Teenage Family Planning Clinic Patients," 13 Family Planning Perspectives 205 (1981).

Condom Availability Programs Do Not Increase Teenage Sexual Activity 
  • The same proportion of sampled students were found to be sexually active (about 60%) in both New York City schools with condom availability programs and Chicago schools without such programs. Moreover, in New York, 69% of parents, 76% of educators, and 89% of students supported the condom availability program. 

Sally Guttmacher, et al., "Condom Availability in New York City Public High Schools: Relationships to Condom Use and Sexual Behavior," 87 American Journal of Public Health 1427, 1430, 1428 (1997).

  • Between 1991 and 1993, the proportion of students who had ever had sex actually dropped from 64% to 58% in the nine Philadelphia high schools with condom availability centers, while it increased from 56% to 59% in comparison schools lacking such centers. 

Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., et al., "Does Condom Availability Make a Difference? An Evaluation of Philadelphia's Health Resource Centers," 29 Family Planning Perspectives 123, 125 (1997). 

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