Condoms reduce the risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission; however, their use among adolescents has been inconsistent. Little is known about factors which motivate consistent condom use, particularly among younger adolescents. In a study designed to identify such factors, 1899 inner-city junior high school students were surveyed. In June 1988, students completed an anonymous self-report questionnaire assessing HIV-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. Among sexually active students (N = 403), logistic regression analysis evaluated the influence of demographic, psychosocial, and behavioral factors on frequency of condom use. Respondents who believe condoms are effective in preventing HIV transmission were 2.2 times more likely to report using condoms consistently during sexual intercourse; those with low perceived costs associated with condom use were 1.9 times more likely to be consistent users. Number of lifetime sexual partners was inversely related to frequency of condom use. Respondents with a history of three or more sex partners were half as likely to use condoms consistently. Factors not associated with consistent condom use include age, age at sexual debut, ethnicity, HIV knowledge, perceived efficacy to avoid HIV infection, and alcohol and drug use. School- and community-based HIV prevention programs will have to go beyond the didactic transfer of factual information and include more interactive teaching strategies to improve adolescents' attitudes toward condoms are self-efficacy to increase condom use and to counter negative peer influences and adolescents' perceptions of invulnerability. Physicians are an underutilized source of HIV prevention information. They have an important role in counseling adolescents about effective HIV-prevention methods and dispelling misperceptions which hinder consistent condom use.
- Received December 3, 1990.
- Accepted March 29, 1991.
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics