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MTV survey finds most young people don't always use condoms

MTV survey finds most young people don't always use condoms

A survey by MTV Networks International that was available in 15 languages on 23 MTV Web sites in Europe, Russia, Latin America, the United States, and the Asia Pacific region shows that while young people ages 14-34 believe condoms are the best method to prevent HIV infections, most who responded don't consistently use them. More than 7,600 people responded to the survey, which touched on several sexual issues. It found that the majority of young people have experienced sex, with almost two thirds of all respondents reporting that they have had sexual intercourse. This figure was higher for males than for females--65% of males compared with 60% of female respondents. Overall, the average number of sexual partners that respondents reported having over the prior six months is 1.73. There were also significant differences in sexual experience throughout the regions surveyed. Respondents in the Asia Pacific region were least likely to have had sex, with 47% reporting that they have had sexual intercourse, compared to 70% in the United States and Western Europe, 69% in Latin America, and 60% in Eastern Europe. Condoms were the preferred method of protection against HIV/AIDS among 64% of those surveyed. However, among sexually active males and females in noncommitted relationships 62% said they do not always use a condom when they have sex. When asked to choose between condoms, being faithful to one partner, or abstinence, 64% preferred condoms, 31% being faithful, and only 6% preferred abstinence as a method of protecting themselves against HIV transmission. Thirty-seven percent of the young people surveyed said they did not use a condom the first time they had intercourse. An alarming finding is the belief among young people that birth control pills are an effective method of protection against contracting HIV. About 15% of those surveyed believe this to be the case, but in the Asia Pacific region and Eastern Europe this figure rises to about one fifth of respondents. This finding underscores the need for continued education on how HIV is transmitted, MTV officials say. "It is crucial that we continue to deliver the message to youth that it only takes one unprotected sexual experience to become HIV-positive," says Bill Roedy, president of MTV Networks International and an ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. "As one of the most trusted sources of information, the media continue to play a vital role in delivering HIV/AIDS prevention messages to young people worldwide."

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