Condom and Safer Sex Product Availability among U.S. College Health Centers

Article excerpt

Introduction

Research and epidemiological data have revealed public health, medical, and economic impacts of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancy among adolescents and young adults (CDC, 2009; Chesson, Blanford, Gift, Tao, & Irwin, 2004; Institute of Medicine, 1995). According to the CDC (2009), sexually active 15 - 24 year olds are at higher risk for STIs for a variety of reasons including behavioral, biological, and cultural factors. The use of male latex condoms reduces the risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), gonorrhea, chlamydia infection, and genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in women, and is associated with the clearance/regression of HPV and HPV-related illness (Ahmed et al., 2001; Bleeker et al., 2003; Hogewoning et al., 2003; Sanchez et al., 2003; Winer, 2006). With regard to unintended pregnancy, condom efficacy is 98% among users who exhibit "perfect use" over the course of a 1-year time period, and 85% when users exhibit "typical use" (Trussell, 2007).

Researchers at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University recently published findings from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB; Reece et al., 2010a). The NSSHB is a large (n = 5,865), nationally representative cross-sectional survey of sexuality and sexual health behaviors of U.S. residents 14 - 94 years old. With regard to condom use, findings indicated that among participants who had vaginal intercourse within the last year, men 18 - 24 years old used a condom 44.9% (95% CI = 37.4% 52.7%) of the time during their most recent 10 occurrences of vaginal intercourse and women 38.7% (95% CI = 31.0% - 47.0%) of the time (Reece et al., 2010b). Overall, findings of the NSSHB revealed that condom use over the most 10 most recent acts of vaginal intercourse was most common among participants 14 17 years old, followed by those 18 - 24 years old. In addition, among men and women 18 years and older who had participated in anal sex over the last year, condoms were used 20.3% of the time during the past 10 sexual encounters.

Despite the demonstrated efficacy of male latex condoms, few studies have assessed where sexually active individuals typically acquire condoms (Reece, Mark, Schick, Herbenick, & Dodge, 2010). A recent investigation by Reece and colleagues (2010) assessed condom acquisition among 1,832 men living in all 50 U.S. states ages 18 - 75 years old (M = 26.96, SD = 8.69). Results indicated that younger men (29 and younger) were more likely to receive free condoms. In addition, among those who received free condoms, several sources of acquisition were common areas housed within a college or university including a health clinic (20.5%), health fair (13.4%), dorm/student group (8.5%), and classroom (3.6%). Similar results were found among participants who purchased condoms; common acquisition included venues common to collegiate environments including pharmacy (61.0%), grocery store (28.3%), convenience store (10.9%), health clinic (3.7%), and vending machine (3.2%).

Results of the National College Health Risk Behavior Survey, conducted by the CDC, (1997), indicated that 35.1% of students reported having been pregnant or gotten someone pregnant at some point in their life. Recent findings of the Fall 2009 American College Health Association (ACHA): National College Health Assessment II survey revealed that 66.5% of college students have had vaginal, anal, or oral sex with at least one partner over the last 12 months (ACHA, 2009). Among those who had sex with at least one partner during that time, collegiate men reported a M of 2.54 (SD = 4.80) sexual partners and women a M of 1.77 (SD = 2.32) partners. In addition, among those sexually active in the last 30 days, half (51.6%) used a condom or other protective barrier for vaginal sex on most or all occasions, 30.2% for anal sex, and 6.0% for oral sex. Among those who reported using a contraceptive the last time they had vaginal sex, 61. …