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news release

Leila Darabi

July 29, 2005


In China, where premarital sex, unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are on the rise, young people participating in a comprehensive sex education program were more likely to have used condoms and other contraceptives, and less likely to have coerced a partner into having sex, than their peers who did not participate in the program, according to a recent assessment. The study, published in the latest issue of International Family Planning Perspectives, compared more than 1,000 young people enrolled in the sex education program in a Shanghai suburb with a similar group in a comparable town without the program.

The program provided information on abstinence, sexuality, contraception and HIV/AIDS prevention to unmarried 15–24-year-olds over a period of 20 months. It included six types of activities: distribution of educational reading materials, screening of educational videos, lectures, peer group discussions, and provision of reproductive health services and counseling. Most activities took place on weekends, when young people had more time to participate.

Compared with young people in the comparison group, program participants had 13 times the odds of using condoms and six times the odds of using other contraceptives. The odds of having coerced a partner into sex were three times as high for young people in the comparison group than for those in the program.

As cultural and social restraints lessen in the People’s Republic, the need for sexual and reproductive health information increases. HIV, in particular is a growing public health concern in China, because knowledge of the virus is low and more unmarried adolescents are having sex. Comprehensive sex education that empowers young people to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy, unwanted sex and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, is needed to lessen the risks associated with premarital sexual activity.

The study, “The Potential of Comprehensive Sex Education in China: Findings from Suburban Shanghai,” by Bo Wang of the University of Wisconsin et al. is published in the June 2005 issue of International Family Planning Perspectives.

Also in this issue:

"Siblings’ Premarital Childbearing and the Timing of First Sex in Three Major Cities of Cote d’Ivoire," by Nafissatou Diop-Sidibé of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

"Reproductive Tract Infections Among Married Women in Tamil Nadu, India," by Jasmin Helen Prasad of the Christian Medical College, Vellore, India et al.

"Wealth and Extramarital Sex Among Men in Zambia," by Sitawa R. Kimuna of the University of North Carolina and Yanyi K. Djamba of Louisiana University

"The Unfinished Agenda for Reproductive Health: Priorities for the Next 10 Years," by Adrienne Germain and Jennifer Kidwell

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