Does research support the claim that condom availability doesn't increase activity?
A study released yesterday in the American Journal of Public Health says that condom availability in high schools increases condom use by sexually active teens. However, this is not the claim that is making headlines today.
The Washington Post headline reads: "Condom programs don't increase likelihood of teen sex, study says."
But did the study really find that to be true?
Susan Blake and colleagues at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., studied a 1995 survey of sexual behavior data from more than 4,000 students attending high schools in Massachusetts. Nine schools in the study made condoms available, while 50 did not.
Researchers say they found that students in schools with condom programs were more likely to use condoms. Those in the other 50 schools tended to use other forms of birth control.
It is logical that when condoms are available, they can be used more. But Blake argues that the study also shows that students in schools with condoms available were slightly less likely to have had sex. The study says 49 percent of students at the schools without condom programs reported sexual activity. Only 42 percent of teens at schools where condoms were available said they had sex.
"The concerns of the small minority of parents who oppose providing condoms or related instruction in schools were not substantiated," wrote Blake in the study results.
But what the study did not look at were the rates of sexual behavior before and after condom programs were introduced into schools. "As the researchers themselves admit, because the study was not designed to examine changes in condom use from pre- to post-program, its findings don't definitively ...1
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