Young People Might Overestimate Condom Use, Study Finds
Some teenagers and young adults might overestimate how often they use condoms during sex, according to a study published recently in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Reuters Health reports. Eve Rose of Emory University and colleagues conducted the study among 715 black women and girls ages 15 to 21 who were enrolled in an HIV prevention program. Researchers asked the participants how many times in the past two weeks they had sex and how many times they used a condom. The participants also provided vaginal fluid samples to be screened for Y chromosome DNA, or evidence of sperm.
The researchers found that among the women who had sex during the past two weeks, 186 reported condom use every time. However, of the women who reported consistent condom use, 34% had Y chromosome DNA in their fluid samples. According to the researchers, the reasons for the discrepancy -- including that the participants were mistaken, had misused the condoms or had provided the "socially desirable" response -- are not known. They add that "regardless of whether the problem is condom user error or misreporting, the unfortunate result, in terms of risk for [sexually transmitted infections] and HIV, is the same." The study's findings also have implications for young people's sexual health and studies on the issue, the researchers said. They added that studies using both self reports and objective measures of condom use might provide a more accurate understanding of young people's sexual behavior and their STI risk (Reuters Health, 1/14).
An abstract of the study is available online.