Increasing Number of HIV Cases Among Young People Worldwide Highlights Need for Sexual Behavior Change Among Youth, Study Says
"Factors That Shape Young People's Sexual Behavior: A Systematic Review," Lancet: Almost half of new HIV cases worldwide occur among people ages 15 to 24, making efforts to change sexual behavior among youth a vital component in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, according to a study in the Nov. 4 issue of the journal Lancet. HIV prevention campaigns targeting young people often encourage safer sex practices, such as condom use, as well as the distribution of condoms at no cost, according to Cicely Marston and Eleanor King of the Department of Public Health and Policy at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. According to Marston and King, such campaigns often have "disappointing results," even in areas where condoms are widely available and awareness about sexually transmitted infections is high. To determine how social and cultural influences affect sexual behavior, Marston and King analyzed 268 studies conducted between 1990 and 2004 that examined sexual behavior among young people and identified themes that determine such behavior. The researchers identified seven key themes: that young people label sexual partners as "clean" or "unclean"; that sexual partners influence behavior; that condoms are associated with not trusting sexual partners; that gender stereotypes determine social expectations and behavior; that society both penalizes and rewards sex; that social displays of sexual activity or inactivity are important; and that social expectations limit discussion about sex. The researchers said that the themes existed in all countries studied. Policymakers should consider the seven themes in designing HIV education programs, according to the authors (King/Marston, Lancet, 11/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.