When it comes to unprotected sex, Nina, a N.C. Central University senior, says “In my opinion, no glove, no love.”
This may seem like the right attitude, but on college campuses nationwide, many students do not use protection when engaging in sexual activities.
Dr. Marla Eisenberg of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass. conducted a study of sexual health behaviors among more than 8,500 undergraduate students nationwide.
The students filled out the anonymous surveys as part of the 1997 College Alcohol Study.
Although college students in the U.S. are at a high risk for sexually transmitted diseases, recent research shows that most do not use condoms consistently. A study found that 43 percent of college students regularly use condoms during sexual activities.
However, 24 percent of college students said they never use condoms.
Reasons for not using condoms vary. Some female students have low self-esteem, which makes it difficult for them to have an honest conversation about sex or negotiate condom use. Some say that males create many excuses to have unprotected sex.
“My boyfriend and I don‘t use condoms because he doesn‘t like them,” said Ebony, a NCCU freshman.
Other male students share her boyfriend’s opinion.
“Condoms take away from the feeling,” said Antonio, a sophomore music major.
For no apparent reason, many males are laissez-faire when it comes to the use of condoms.
“I usually use condoms until my girlfriend and I get tested together,” said Michael, an English major. “As far as birth control after that, well, that’s her responsibility.”
Many female students who have a steady partner and are using other methods of birth control, such as birth control pills or Depo Provera (an injection given into a muscle in the upper arm or buttocks), feel that condoms are not necessary.
“I’ve been with my boyfriend three years and we don’t use condoms because I am on birth control pills,” said Jena, a sophomore. The availability of RU-486, the so-called “morning after pill,” may have contributed to a decrease in condom use.
The NCCU infirmary willprovide RU-186 depending on a student’s situation.
Seventy-one percent of college students surveyed in the study said that they are sexually experienced.
“I feel that I am somewhat sexually experienced,” said Ashley, a sophomore.
“I know that I am sexually experienced,” said sophomore Joseph.
The study also found that men with more partners reported less condom use — a potentially risky combination.
“With the ratio of girls to boys being so uneven, it’s hard for me not to have as many girls as possible for the price of one,” said Derrick, a junior from Greensboro. When asked how many females he was currently seeing, Derrick laughed and said: “Less than five.”
The study indicates that students older than 23 and those who live off-campus are among those least likely to use condoms.
“[They are] more likely to be involved in steady relationships and use other forms of birth control than the traditional 18 to 22-year-old, dorm-living college student,’’ said Eisenberg, now at the University of Minnesota's National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Research Center.
The number of students using condoms may not directly translate to the number who practice “safe sex,’’ Eisenberg added. “Many students may rely on other forms of birth control and sexually transmitted disease prevention, such as oral contraceptives in a monogamous partnership,” she said.