Pediatricians want greater condom access

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2013 policy statement fully endorses wide condom access to teens and young adults. The association cited concerns that, although teen pregnancy is down, sexually transmitted infections remain too high. The group's last policy recommendation was in 2001. The group pointed to data that indicated the need for education and access, including the following:

  • By grade 12, around two-thirds of students reported being sexually active, but reported lower use of condoms compared to sexually active students in grades nine and 10;
  • 15-to-24-year-olds acquire around 50% of new STIs, although they represent 25% of the sexually active population;
  • Around 10,065 patients between 13 and 24 years old were diagnosed with HIV in 2011.

The AAP said the need for education and condom access were an important two-part process, because access without education generally resulted in lower condom use.

The association's data also challenged concerns that sexual education was associated with greater sexual activity (there is a similar concern that HPV vaccinations encourage sexual activity): they noted that 83 studies of sexual education programs for the 25-and-under set from countries around the world found “two-thirds of the programs significantly improved one or more sexual behaviors,” and that of the ones which assessed condom use, 48% resulted in increased use of the prophylactics. None found an increase in sexual activity following education.

The AAP is encouraging pediatricians, schools and other HCP locations to make condoms available for free or at low cost to increase use.

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