Wilcox, B.L., University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA
Studies of HIV risk behavior among adolescents have shown a general trend towards increasing use of condoms. Most of these studies have relied on general population or student samples. It is less clear that condom use has changed appreciably among those in higher risk groups. Using a mixed methods design, this study focused on adolescents living on the streets apart from their families in two urban communities in Brazil and the United States. Eighty homeless adolescents (40 from Brazil, 40 from the United States) were interviewed on two occasions to assess knowledge and attitudes about condoms and actual condom use. Detailed demographic and sexual histories and information about other risk behaviors were also collected. The results indicate that in both locales the degree of misinformation about condoms is high when compared to results from general surveys of adolescents. Attitudes towards condom use, while generally positive and consistent with results from other surveys, were not strongly associated with regular condom use or condom use at last intercourse. Homeless adolescent males engaging in paid sexual were less likely to use condoms, especially among Brazilian youth. Perceived barriers to condom use varied by country. Implications for prevention programs are discussed.