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Access key to increasing condom use by young men

10 July 2000 Media Statement

Access key to increasing condom use by young men


Free, confidential access to condoms and better information on how to use them effectively could be a simple way of improving the sexual and reproductive health of young New Zealanders, Youth Affairs Minister Laila Harré said today.

The Minister was commenting on Ministry of Youth Affairs briefing papers on ways of increasing consistent condom use by young men.

"If we can increase the number of young men taking responsibility for safe sex then, in turn, we will improve the sexual and reproductive health of young women," Laila Harré said.

The briefing papers show that young men are less likely to access free condoms if they have to go through a GP or sexual health clinic to get them, and that free condoms are obtained at a greater rate than those at low cost.

One study found that only 23% of young men surveyed obtained condoms from a family planning clinic, and 3% obtained condoms from a GP.

"Of all condom availability programmes operating in schools in the United States, the rate of condoms obtained was highest from baskets or bowls and school-based health clinics," Laila Harré said.

"Access is important, but it's not the only way we can encourage young men to adopt a positive attitude to safe sex.

"Improved access to condoms must be accompanied by an increase in information and education on how to use them effectively."

The briefing papers reveal that young men's skill in using condoms is often inadequate, which is a major barrier to consistent use.

A United States study found that sex education was associated with an almost 80% decrease in the risk of condom breakage among young men who used condoms frequently.

"Young men interviewed by Youthline on behalf of the Ministry of Youth Affairs admitted they needed more confidence to refuse unprotected sex and insist that condoms are used," Laila Harré said.

"But the majority of those interviewed in focus groups expressed strong support for making condoms more widely available, especially in schools," she said.

This support was strongest among the 15 to 16 year olds, and there was almost unanimous support for making condoms available free of charge.

ENDS

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