The female condom, a tool for empowering sexually active urban adolescent women
Raphan, G.; Cohen, S.; Boyer, A.M.
Journal of Urban Health Bulletin of the new York Academy of Medicine 78(4): 605-613
Adolescent women are at high risk of sexually transmitted diseases/human immunodeficiency virus (STDs/HIV) because of physiologic susceptibility and risky sexual behavior. The latter may be related to the "personal factors" of self-efficacy, sexual knowledge, self-esteem, and ability to communicate/negotiate. In the current study, near-peers attempted to have an impact on these factors by using the female condom as a negotiating tool for safer sex in a group of 100 urban adolescent women recruited from an adolescent health center waiting room. This pilot study consisted of a questionnaire, a workshop on how to use the female condom and negotiate its use, and follow-up interviews at 1 and 4 months. Demographics of the study sample define a multiethnic (40% black, 33% Hispanic) group in late adolescence (average age 18 years) completing high school. At baseline, 18% evidenced depression, 62% had moderate-to-low self-esteem, 91% had an internal locus of control. At baseline, male condom use in the prior 6 months was 28% always, 51% inconsistently, 21% never. When baseline and follow-up scores were compared, there was a statistically significant increase in sexual knowledge and self-efficacy, together with the suggestion of improved negotiating skills. At 1 month, 50% (20/40) had tried the female condom, and 17 of these women planned to use it in the future. Total percentage of protected sex acts increased significantly during the follow-up period through increased use of both the male and female condoms. The data suggest that adolescent women will accept the female condom and can be empowered to protect themselves from STDs/HIV through its application or through the using of it as a negotiating tool.