Teens in Poor Mexican States Engaging in Unprotected Sex, Have Little Understanding of Contraceptives, HIV/AIDS, Survey Shows
Unprotected sexual activity is "common" among teenagers living in certain Mexican states, where misconceptions about contraception and HIV/AIDS persist despite nationwide education campaigns about condom use for disease and pregnancy prevention, according to a survey of teenagers living in five Mexican states with high rates of poverty and infant and maternal mortality, Mexico's El Universal reports. Researchers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico surveyed 15,488 teenagers ages 13 to 19 in Chiapas, Guerrero, San Luis Potosi, Puebla and Guanajuato. According to the findings, nearly 13% reported being sexually active, although two-thirds said they believe a woman should be a virgin when she marries. Of the approximately 2,000 sexually active respondents, 57 reported experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, 46.2% of whom obtained an abortion to terminate their pregnancy. Approximately 31% of the sexually active teen respondents reported that they did not use a condom during their first sexual encounter, which in only about 1% of the cases was with a spouse. Among the sexually active teen girls, 27% said they had unprotected sex because they did not know how to use contraception, 22% said they had unprotected sex because the sex was unplanned and 21% said they had unprotected sex because they did not have a condom at the time. In addition, almost 7% of teens surveyed said they thought HIV/AIDS "can be easily cured with treatment," and almost 7% of 13- and 14-year-olds surveyed said they thought HIV could be transmitted only between men who have sex with men. The survey concluded, "There exists much confusion and little understanding of the uses of contraceptives" (Martinez, El Universal, 2/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.