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Doctors Urge More Access to Condoms for Adolescents

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a new policy statement supporting condom availability programs for adolescents, published in the November issue of Pediatrics. The new statement updates a previous statement published in 2001and was developed to assist pediatricians in their understanding and support of condom use by their patients to prevent unintended pregnancies and STDs.[1]

Lead author Rebecca F. O'Brien, MD and colleagues from the AAP Committee on Adolescence note in the updated policy statement that despite declining rates of sexual activity, pregnancies, and births among adolescents during the past decade, many adolescents still remain at risk for unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

AAP acknowledges that although abstinence from sexual activity is the most effective method for the prevention of pregnancy and STDs, young people should be prepared for the time when they will become sexually active—if they are not already.

Similar to the 2001 policy statement, the Committee again reiterates the importance of comprehensive sexuality education, recommending:

“Condom availability programs should be developed through a collaborative community process and accompanied by comprehensive sequential sexuality education to be most effective. This is ideally part of a K–12 health education program, with parental involvement, counseling, and positive peer support.”[2]

The policy statement includes eight other recommendations for ways that pediatricians, parents, schools, and communities can increase access and use of condoms among adolescents. Key highlights of which include:

  • Pediatricians and other clinicians should help raise awareness that making condoms available to adolescents does not increase the onset or frequency of adolescent sexual activity.
     
  • Schools should be considered appropriate sites for condom availability programs and trainings to improve young people’s communication skills around condom negotiation with partners.
     
  • Restrictions and barriers to condom availability should be removed and sexually active adolescents should have access to condoms at free or low cost. Pediatricians and other clinicians are encouraged to provide condoms within their offices and to support availability within their communities.

[1] “Condom Use by Adolescents,” Committee on Adolescence Policy Statement, Pediatrics,Volume 132, Number 5, November 2013, accessed November 1, 2013, http://bit.ly/1iAxY4A.

[2] Ibid.

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