OBJECTIVES: To asses changes in sexual behaviour and use of contraceptive methods in Danish adolescents from the period before the advent of AIDS up to the present. DESIGN: Comparative study comparing data obtained from two identical cross sectional surveys SETTING: Grenaa Gymnasium, Denmark. SUBJECTS: 626 high school students in 1982 and 499 high school students in 1996. METHODS: An anonymous standardised self administered questionnaire handed out to high school students at Grenaa Gymnasium in spring 1982. In spring 1996 an identical questionnaire was handed out to every high school student at the same gymnasium. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Age at first sexual intercourse, contraceptive use, and reasons for choice of contraceptive strategy. RESULTS: Today more males had experienced the first sexual intercourse before their 16th birthday (p = 0.047) compared with 1982, the reverse held for females (p = 0.003). From 1982 to 1996 condom use increased in males with no regular partner (p = 0.009). In females with no regular partner, there was during the same period an increase in considering the condom a personal contraceptive method (p = 0.017). In 1982 and 1996 protection from sexually transmitted diseases was given as reason for the choice of contraceptive strategy by 21% and 72% of males with no regular partner (p < 0.001), and by 7% and 32% of males with a regular partner (p < 0.001). The corresponding figures for females in 1982 and 1996 were 10% and 71% (p < 0.001) for those with no regular partner and 4% and 21% (p < 0.001) for those with a regular partner. CONCLUSION: Condom use has increased among adolescents with no regular partner brought up under the widespread awareness of AIDS, and the reason for this is to be protected from sexually transmitted diseases. A future decline in the incidence of various sexually transmitted diseases may be expected, and information on safe sexual practices should be continued.
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