Beliefs about condoms and their association with intentions to use condoms among youths in detention

M R Gillmore, D M Morrison, C Lowery, S A Baker
Journal of Adolescent Health 1994, 15 (3): 228-37

PURPOSE: Youths in detention have been identified as a high-risk group for AIDS. To help inform AIDS-prevention efforts targeted for these youths, we surveyed youths in detention regarding their sexual behaviors, beliefs about condoms, intentions to use condoms, and actual condom use. We examined race and gender differences in these beliefs and behaviors, and we studied the relationship of these beliefs to condom-use intentions.

METHODS: Questionnaires were administered to a sample of 201 youths in detention who were, on average, 16 years old. The sample was stratified on gender and race (African-American and white), with approximately equal numbers in each group.

RESULTS: The results indicate that these youths had engaged in behaviors that put them at high risk of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases. Although they used condoms somewhat more consistently with casual partners than with their steady partners, the majority did not use condoms consistently with either partner type. Very few race or gender differences were found with regard to condom use, intentions to use condoms, or beliefs about the consequences of using condoms. Beliefs associated with intentions to use condoms with steady partners included protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and the beliefs that condoms reduce pleasure, are artificial, unromantic, and interrupt sex. In contrast, only the belief that condoms prevent pregnancy was related to intentions to use condoms with casual partners.

CONCLUSION: The results suggest that interventions targeted at African-American and white males and females in detention need not differ greatly in content as long as they include the most salient concerns of each group; that interventions include content on the two protective benefits of condom use (pregnancy and STD prevention), as well as on how to minimize the perceived negative aspects of condom use; that they stress the need for condom use with steady as well as casual partners; and that they stress that anal intercourse is especially risky with regard to AIDS transmission.

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