The use of condoms as part of the prevention of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in adolescents is evaluated in this policy statement. Sexual activity and pregnancies decreased slightly among adolescents in the 1990s, reversing trends that were present in the 1970s and 1980s, while condom use among adolescents increased significantly. These trends likely reflect initial success of primary and secondary prevention messages aimed at adolescents. Rates of acquisition of STDs and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among adolescents remain unacceptably high, highlighting the need for continued prevention efforts and reflecting the fact that improved condom use can decrease, but never eliminate, the risk of acquisition of STDs and HIV as well as unintended pregnancies. While many condom education and availability programs have been shown to have modest effects on condom use, there is no evidence that these programs contribute to increased sexual activity among adolescents. These trends highlight the progress that has been made and the large amount that still needs to be accomplished.

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