Sexual communication is associated with condom use by sexually active incarcerated adolescents

J Adolesc Health. 1994 Jul;15(5):383-8. doi: 10.1016/1054-139x(94)90261-5.

Abstract

Purpose: Incarcerated adolescents are at increased risk for infection by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Moreover, condom use by this population is extremely low. Although interpersonal variables such as sexual communication have been found to be associated with condom use in other populations, few researchers have investigated this relationship among adolescents requiring detention in juvenile facilities. The present study investigated the relationship between communication about sexual history and incarcerated adolescents' condom use.

Methods: We used multivariate logistic regression techniques to analyze interview data from a predominantly Latino sample of 2,132 sexually active adolescents detained in Los Angeles County Juvenile Hall.

Results: Despite high numbers of lifetime sexual partners, a substantial majority of respondents (67%) reported that they never used condoms during sexual intercourse. Respondents who communicated with their sex partner(s) about each others' sexual history were significantly more likely to use condoms during sexual intercourse. Adolescents who reported that they knew someone with AIDS were also more likely to use condoms.

Conclusions: Interventions designed to increase condom use among sexually active incarcerated adolescents should include a component addressing sexual communication practices. More research is needed on the ways in which adolescents learn to communicate about sex.

PIP: Approximately 25,000 adolescents are incarcerated per year in Los Angeles, California. Since only a very small proportion of this population uses or has used condoms during sexual intercourse, incarcerated adolescents are generally at increased risk for infection with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV. The authors use multivariate logistic regression techniques on interview data collected over the period January 1991 -May 1992 from a sample of 2132 sexually active adolescents in Los Angeles County Juvenile Hall to investigate the relationship between communication about sexual history and incarcerated adolescents' condom use. The sample was comprised of 1815 males and 317 females; 50% Hispanic, 31% African-American, and 9% Caucasian; and 59% aged 12-16 years and 41% aged 17 and older. 53% had 7 or more vaginal sex partners in their lifetime, while 47% had 6 or fewer. 15% had 2 or more vaginal sex partners in the preceding two months. While 33% reported using a condom at least once, 67% reported never using condoms during sexual intercourse. Latinos were 2.5 times less likely than whites and African-Americans to report using condoms. Further, respondents who communicated with their sex partner(s) about each other's sex history were almost three times more likely to use condoms during sexual intercourse. Adolescents who reported that they knew someone with AIDS were almost twice as likely to report having used a condom during sexual intercourse. The authors conclude that interventions designed to increase condom use among sexually active incarcerated adolescents should include a component addressing sexual communication practices. More research on how adolescents learn to communicate about sex is also warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Communication
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control*