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Behavioral Interventions Succeed in Promoting Condom Use

Last Updated: April 21, 2011.

Behavioral interventions in young women to promote safer sexual behaviors to protect against transmission of sexually transmitted infections may be effective, primarily at encouraging condom use, according to a review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

THURSDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Behavioral interventions in young women to promote safer sexual behaviors to protect against transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may be effective, primarily at encouraging condom use, according to a review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Jonathan P. Shepherd, M.D., from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, and colleagues reviewed 23 randomized clinical trials to identify the effectiveness of behavioral interventions at encouraging safer sexual behaviors for young women up to age 25 years. The trials measured behavioral outcomes, such as condom use, and/or biological outcomes, including incidence of STIs and cervical cancer. Most of the trials were conducted in health care clinics in the United States.

The investigators found that most interventions gave information about STIs and educated about skills associated with safer sex; some interventions provided resources, including free sexual health services. STIs addressed included HIV and chlamydia, but did not mention human papillomavirus or prevention of cervical cancer. Behavioral outcomes, including condom use, were significantly increased by interventions, although this was not universal and varied according to the outcome. No significant effects were seen based on abstaining from or reducing sexual activity. Statistically significant effects on STI outcomes were limited, with incomplete or ambiguous reporting resulting in considerable uncertainty regarding risk of bias.

"Although some behavioral interventions improve condom-related behavior, trials have been predominantly in U.S.A. health care settings, did not specifically address human papillomavirus, and were too different to enable a most effective type of intervention to be identified," the authors write.

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