Providence, RI -- One of the main outcomes from the world AIDS conference in Toronto this month was the push for better HIV intervention methods. This week, a new study from researchers at the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and Brown Medical School, finds that teen attitudes toward condom use with whom they perceive as casual sexual partners versus main partners is crucial in developing effective HIV intervention programs.
Researchers discovered that whether or not they were with a 'main' or 'casual' sexual partner, study participants had similar numbers of unprotected sex acts, despite the fact that they were more likely to use condoms with a casual partner than with someone with whom they considered a serious partner.
"Unfortunately, this reveals that teens may overestimate the safety of using condoms most of the time with a casual partner and underestimate the risk of unprotected sex with a serious partner," says lead author Celia Lescano, PhD, with the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and Brown Medical School.
This study appears in the September issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. Over thirteen hundred sexually active adolescents (between fifteen and twenty-one years of age), from Miami, Atlanta and Providence, were recruited for this study. Researchers divided them into two groups: the sixty-five percent who reported sexual activity with main partners only in the past ninety days, and the thirty-five percent who had at least one casual partner. Interestingly, the number of unprotected sex acts in the past ninety days was substantial and equivalent between the main and casual partner groups (19.2 versus 21.5, respectively).
"We can conclude that, given these high rates of unprotected sex, teens in both groups may be at risk for contracting HIV and sexually-transmitted diseases," says Lescano.