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Safer-sex education leads to fewer episodes of unprotected sex

March 22, 2016

The reviewers also found that in nine of 12 trials, young women who underwent safer-sex education had fewer episodes of unprotected sex, compared to young women who did not participate in the behavioral education program. In four of 12 trials, young women who had the safer-sex education reported having fewer sexual partners during the study follow-up period, though only one of those trials was considered statistically significant.

Overall, safer-sex education programs appeared to have little influence on how many women engaged in sex. The authors reported that none of the programs affected abstinence rates.

Only 12 of the 23 studies included in the review examined whether safer sex education influenced STI transmission rates. Three studies found that safer sex education reduced risk of chlamydia transmission, but for gonorrhea and trichomoniasis, the behavioral program did not change infection rates.

None of the studies examined how the behavioral program affected human papillomavirus infection rates. "The studies are probably too small in terms of numbers of young women included to be conclusive about whether or not behavioral interventions can prevent infections," Shepherd said.

He also noted that most of the studies only measured short-term effects. Most of the studies only followed the women six to 12 months after the trials. "It may be the case that, given adequate time, young women learn to adopt safer sexual behaviors and make it routine in their lives. Conversely, we don't know whether favorable risk reduction behaviors, once learned, are maintained in years to come," Shepherd said.

"This is the only cancer that we know the cause, that has a pre-invasive phase that's curable, and has a vaccine. There's really no reason for this to be in existence today," Ramondetta said.

SOURCE The Cochrane Library