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March 1998

Effect of HIV Counseling and Testing on Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Condom Use in an Urban Adolescent Population

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Children's National Medical Center and Department of Pediatrics, George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, DC.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998;152(3):269-273. doi:10.1001/archpedi.152.3.269

Objectives  To determine whether human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) counseling and testing has an effect on reducing subsequent risk behaviors in those tested, to evaluate stability in condom use over time, and to determine whether self-reported frequency of condom use relates to the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Design  Cohort study with 2-year follow-up.

Setting  An urban adolescent-medicine clinic.

Participants  A random sample of 149 patients (118 female and 31 male adolescents) with a mean (±SD) age of 16.4 ±1.51 years were selected from a cohort of 500 patients at high risk for HIV infection. The patients had received a risk behavior questionnaire during pretest counseling for HIV testing. They were divided into 3 groups, identified by the letter F, S, or R, based on their self-report of frequency of condom use at enrollment: 24% used condoms frequently/always (F); 40%, sometimes (S); and 36%, rarely/never (R). One hundred twenty-six patients (85%) made return visits.

Intervention  HIV counseling and testing.

Main Outcome Measures  Medical record documentation of STDs before and after HIV testing, and self-reported condom use frequency.

Results  Before HIV testing, all 3 condom use groups had a similar frequency of STD visits per month. The number of STD visits per month did not decrease significantly in the posttest period for either the total group or each of the 3 subgroups. Also, most patients (F, 67%; S, 44%; R, 53%) in each of the 3 subgroups had shifted unfavorably to rarely/never (R) condom use within the month before their follow-up visit. Only 24% (8 patients) of those in the initial frequently/always (F) group reported continued frequent condom use.

Conclusions  As has been found in adult studies, single-dose interventions such as HIV counseling and testing did not seem to reduce HIV risk behaviors in our sample of high-risk adolescent patients. None of the 3 groups showed a significant decrease in STDs after HIV testing and counseling. Also, our adolescent patients reported widely varying condom use frequency over time, yet the incidence of STDs did not correlate with self-reported condom use.