Young women in developing countries are less likely
than young men to use condoms during higher-risk sex.1
Condom use is also much less common among young
people in poorer households and in rural areas.
Overall, condom use during higher-risk sex is still low in
most developing countries – it averages less than half
among young men and one third among young women.
Improvements have been noted in a few countries in all
regions, but significant variations remain. Many countries do
not provide information on condoms to school-aged young
people; fewer still support their access to condoms or offer
counselling on condom use.
Between 2000 and 2008, increases of 10 or more percentage
points in condom use at last higher-risk sexual activity
occurred among women in 11 of 22 developing countries
with trend data and among men in 11 of 17 countries. The
lower rates of condom use among young women indicate
that prevention efforts have been inadequate in addressing
the unique vulnerability of girls and young women.
Where marked improvements have been achieved,
they have resulted from a combination of behavioural,
biomedical and structural interventions as well as the
collective efforts of governments, partners, civil society
and individuals. Improved use of evidence, coordination,
technical support and quality assurance are essential to
bring national prevention efforts for young people to scale
with better quality and efficiency. Through such efforts, risk and vulnerability can be addressed, behaviours that
contribute to HIV infection can be changed, and young
lives can be saved.
1Higher-risk sex is defined as sex with a non-marital, non-cohabiting sexual partner.