Safe sex messages are no effective in encouraging students to adopt safe sex practices and prevent unwanted pregnancies, a new study has found. The study, conducted by Mexican researchers has highlighted the need for more effective strategies to prevent the transmission of AIDS/HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Although the students were stressed on the importance of condom use and refraining from sex (abstinence), these sex education measures had very little effect on the protective measures adopted by students.
The impact of the various HIV/AIDS prevention programs were analyzed on approximately 11,000 students in 40 different public high schools in Mexico. Condom use was promoted in 15 schools while 15 other schools promoted condoms and emergency contraception. Standard sex education was promoted in the remaining 10 schools that formed the control group.
All the students were interviewed at the beginning of the program and at the end of 4 and 16 months to analyze the impact of the program and subsequent change in sexual behavior, if any.
Surprisingly, the program was not found to have any long-term effect with respect to condom use or sexual behavior. However increased use of the morning after pill was reported among students educated about emergency contraception. Furthermore, no increased high-risk sexual behavior was documented in students who were provided information on both condoms and emergency contraception.
'Our study adds to the growing body of evidence that current HIV prevention efforts based in schools do not alter sexual risk behavior. Innovative approaches designed to decrease adolescent risk behavior are urgently needed,' said Dilys Walker, of the National Institute of Public Health in Morelos, in a report prepared for the British Medical Journal.