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Are we Really Helping? Re-thinking Safer Sex Messages

iknowmine staff - Thursday, June 21, 2012

Focus group finds rural NC African-American teens don’t identify with safer sex messaging


“In 2006, we recruited 37 black adolescents from two rural North Carolina counties to participate in focus groups exploring adolescent understanding of how primary prevention strategies reduce STD transmission, described common barriers to the adoption of prevention strategies, and identified risk reduction strategies adolescents commonly employ,” says Aletha Y. Akers, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh.

“What we found is adolescents understand how STDs are transmitted but consider primary prevention strategies like abstinence and consistent condom use unlikely or difficult to implement.”

As reported in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, adolescents in the study say they develop their own strategies to reduce their STD risk, which include indirect partner assessments like evaluating a person’s physical appearance, eye contact, and body language.

Girls who were interviewed often used regular STD testing as a way to fact-check their partners’ faithfulness. As long as they remained STD-free, they felt they could trust their partners’ commitment.

“This study is incredibly important because it shows us a disconnect between adolescents and the public health messages put forth,” Akers says. “We need to identify whatever misconceptions about STD transmission they may have and correct them.

Read the rest here or read the original study.

For a check-in on what safer sex is NOT — like what people look like, or only one person’s test results — you can have a lookie-loo here.

I feel like this is also true in Alaska Native/American Indian/NDN populations. True? Not true?

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