Teens engaging in sexual intercourse are less likely to use condoms with partners with whom they think they have a more in-depth relationship with and deem “familiar,” according to a just-released health study.
In the August 2013 edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health, health researchers released the findings from a 2008 survey of 1,469 heterosexual youths from the Chicago area. The study was completed in an effort to get a better understanding of how sexually transmitted diseases and infections spread.
“Half of all sexually transmitted infections are among adolescents and young adults,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Stephanie Staras. “Sometimes, the partner one chooses affects whether or not one uses a condom.”
“If the person thought their partner was casual or unexpected they were more likely to use a condom.”
The study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by the University of Florida (UF), where Staras is an assistant professor for both the Institute for Child Health Policy and the UF Department of Health Outcomes and Policy.
Staras said that there were many factors that increased the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease from a partner that is already infected.
“We looked at whether the partners were drinking alcohol two hours before sex, and when partners were doing that they were less likely to use condoms,” she told the AFRO.
“I don’t think people know the right questions to ask. They don’t know that it’s riskier to be with an older person. You might think you know them well but you don’t know several things about them because you’re not in the same social circles and you don’t know their friends.”
The study also found that liquor played a role in increasing the risk of disease for minor girls.
“We looked at whether the partners were drinking alcohol two hours before sex,” said Staras. “When partners were drinking they were less likely to use condoms.”
Coupled with being “familiar” with their partner, adding liquor to the equation caused teen girls to be half as likely to insist that a condom be used and follow through with the request.
According to the study, teaching youths that disease and infection are real possibilities regardless of their partner’s perceived character or risk factor will go a long way in putting knowledge into practice.