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Condom Wise

Condom Wise

This learning activity is designed for 14- to 18-year-olds. Youth participating in this activity should have been given basic information about condoms and other birth control methods.

Objectives

  1. To establish a group norm that using condoms is the recommended choice for sexually active youth.

  2. To encourage youth who are surrounded by negative condom use norms to stay committed to their positive attitudes about condom use.

  3. To introduce the concept of committing to use condoms for at least the first six months of a sexual relationship.

Time

30 to 45 Minutes

Materials

  • Three placards reading: "Yes," "No," and "Depends"

  • Paper and pencil for each youth

Procedure

  1. Introduce The Activity:

    Tell students that now that they have learned about condoms, it is time to apply what they know to decisions about when to use condoms. Tell them that they will be asked their opinions about whether or not a "case study couple" should use condoms. Let them know that their answers will be private unless they feel comfortable sharing with the group.

  2. Present Case Study and Questions:

    1. Pass out paper and pencils. Ask youth to make a column of numbers on the left-hand side of the page, from one to six.

    2. Read the description of the case study couple below:

      Jared and Maria have been together for several months. They don’t know about each other’s sexual histories, but both assume the other has never had sex (or at least unprotected sex) with anyone else. Recently, their kissing sessions have gotten more "involved." They haven’t talked about it yet, but they are both interested in having sex — sexual intercourse that is.

    3. Read the questions below and ask the youth to answer each question by writing either "yes," "no," or "depends" on their paper next to the number for each question. Warn them that they may not use all six numbers. Tell them that if they choose "depends," they must write a brief explanation about why they chose that response.

      1. Do you recommend Jared and Maria use condoms?

      2. Here is some new information about the couple: One of them has had unprotected sex with three other people, one of these three people is known for "getting around," or having sex with a lot of people. Do you recommend Jared and Maria use condoms?

      3. Here is some new information about the couple: Jared and Maria decide to get tested for STIs including HIV. Since the window period for knowing if you have HIV (the time it takes for HIV antibodies to develop in response to HIV in the body) is six months, the clinic counselor recommends that Jared and Maria either do not have sex OR that they use condoms every time they have sex for six months. After that time, they can be retested and will know for sure whether or not they are infected with HIV.

        Do you recommend Jared and Maria use condoms?

        Explain to the youth that clinic educators are recommending that any sexually active couple, teen or adult, commit to using condoms for at least the first six months of their sexual relationship. This trend of making six-month condom commitments has three real benefits:

        • It reduces a couple's chances of having unprotected sex.

        • It allows time for complete and accurate HIV testing.

        • It relieves the couple of the task of researching other contraceptive options until their relationship is established.

      4. Here is the last prepared question (a repeat of the first question):

        Jared and Maria have been together for several months. They don’t know about each other’s sexual histories, but both assume the other has never had sex (or at least unprotected sex) with anyone else. Recently, their kissing sessions have gotten more "involved." They haven’t talked about it yet, but each of them is interested in having sex (intercourse). Do you recommend Jared and Maria use condoms?

      5. (Optional): Allow a youth to add or change the details of the Jared and Maria Story. Then ask the group if they recommend that Jared and Maria use condoms.

      6. (Optional): Repeat Step #5 with another youth.

  1. Have Youth Choose Their Corners:

    Hang the "Yes," "Depends," and "No" placards in three corners of the room. Let the youth know that you will ask the questions again, and they are invited to stand in the corner of the room that corresponds with their answer. Once in their corners, ask two to three youth from each corner to share why they are in that corner.

    Educators' Note: If a large portion of the group is uncomfortable doing this part of the activity, collect the answer sheets discretely. Shuffle the sheets and pass them out to youth. Instruct youth to stand in the corners that correspond to the answers on the sheets they were given. This way all answers will be shared but in an anonymous and less embarrassing way.
  1. Lead Large Group Discussion:

    Have the youth return to their seats. Choosing from the following questions, lead a discussion about what they learned from the activity.
  1. What did you learn from this activity?

  2. Did seeing other teens' opinions about condom use change your opinion? Explain.

  3. What did the majority of the group think Jared and Maria should do in Question #4 (the repeat of Question #1)?

  4. How does it feel to agree with the majority of the group? How does it feel to disagree with the majority of the group?

    Follow up with one of these two types of responses:

    For a condom supportive group: Explain that when our attitudes and opinions are consistent with those of our peers, it can be easier to do what we feel is right. Reflect back that the wisdom of this group was to recommend condom use. So remember when you hear negative things about using condoms, your peers recommend that sexually active youth should use condoms.

    -- OR --

    For a condom negative group: Explain that having a "minority opinion" about condom use can sometimes make it hard to stick to your opinion. You can gain support by hanging out with friends who share your opinion, avoid getting romantically involved with someone who does not share your opinion, and remind yourself using self-talk why you believe what you do.


  5. If you had a friend who told you he or she was going to have sex with someone, would you feel comfortable sharing your opinion? Explain.

  6. Under what circumstances should sexually active couples use condoms?

  7. What do you think about the "committing to condoms for six months" trend?

  8. When should a couple not use condoms?

Summary and Closure

  1. Thank the youth for participating in the activity.

  2. Summarize the condom supportive messages and other important points that arose during the activity or discussion, which may include:
  • Condoms protect against pregnancy, STIs and HIV.

  • The trend of new couples committing to condoms for six months is becoming a more common practice for youth and adults.

  • Condom use was recommended by the majority of the group.

  • When one’s beliefs are consistent with the social norm, it is easier to act on them.

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