PACAIPAMPA, Peru – It seems to be a typical soap-opera scene: passion overflows two teenagers, who not worryiing about place and time, decide to make love. Around, green mountains, shiny blue sky, beautiful Andean birds tweetts are the whole romantic picture.
But that scene does not come out from the mind of a drama’s screenwriter or producer, where sex is key part of magic formula. It is a reality with risky consequences for their lives and the lives of whoever they meet or will meet.
In bellavista de Cachiaco, a village at Piura Andean Range, Peruvian Northwestern, 14-15 year-old teenagers have already started their sexual life on their romantic landscapes or when they could go beyond, “to the city”, looking for best life conditions.
But what about protection when they have sex? While I was working there, I asked directly san Francisco de Asis High school’s students.
We Do Not Protect
Bellavista de Cachiaco is a village 10 hours away by pick-up from Piura City, previous stop in Pacaipampa town, located deep below a valley at Andean Range, 5729 feet height. It became known because it is the birthplace of Corazón Serrano cumbia band creators, although it is also the Western gateway to enter Huarinjas lakes.
But what I look for has no magic neither mysticism. I want to know if sexually active boys and girls, at least, are protecting with a method apparently available for them – condoms.
Beginning this Annual Course, we applied a poll, being careful about informing its objective and looking for 57 both sexes teenagers to participate anonymusly and volunteeerly for free.
We found just 2 in each 25 know what a condom is and how it works, but the worst was 11 of these 25 have a negative attitude about it.
Condom is a barrier contraceptive. That means it unallows semen containing spermatozoons gets physical contact to an ovum. No physical contact, no fecundation. So, no pregnancy.
Also, this method is suggested to avoid diverse sexual transmitted infections (STI) contagion, including HIV/AIDS.
If I Get Pregnant, It’s For Love
Poll we applied showed that students who started their sexual life are 15 to 16 years old, in majority.
Our research also showed 64.9% of teenagers ignore they can get pregnant during penetration without condom even not having an orgasm. Majority of this percentage are male teenagers (38.6%).
40.4% ignore they have to look for a contraceptive method before the intercourse. 52.6% does not preview neither pay attention on the possibility of a pregnancy before it happens.
54.4% assumes if pregnancy would occurs during teenage does not matter because “it’s product of love.”
Tales, Myths and Legends About Condom
On student’s poll(males are majority), it is evident that 47.4% believes using condom threatens trust the couple has on their relationship, 52.6% thinks it limits sexual pleasure, 54.4% opine using it does not could provide them safety neither pleasure, and 64.9% believes continous using of condom causes sexual impotence in long term (.36.8% are males).
Our poll in Bellavista de Cachiaco shows 70.2% asked teenagers opine condom protects them from majority of STI, but 50.9% does not know it avoids contact to couple’s secretions during intercourse.
In doubting position, we find out 54.4% who has wrong conception that condom protects them from absolutely all STI.
50.9% does not know totally five steps proposed by World Health Organization (WHO) to use it right, and 56.1% ignores condom does not protect if it is used just few before ejaculation, number represented in its majority by male teenagers. 23% believe wearing a condom just before ejaculation is safe.
Don’t You Have Condoms? It Doesn’t Matter!
Data gotten in Bellavista de Cachiaco clarify 28.1% of teenagers would have sex with another one else simply “because he/she likes her/him,” even if they do not have a condom at that moment. Notoriously we observed women are who have a major negative attitude about this fact.
42.1% of this population do not pay attention before a intercourse, they must look for information to avoid STI, that they do not care using condom as protecttion if they have sex with his girlfriend/her boyfriend.
38.6% unknow they can infect from any STI during their first sexual experience if they do not use condom, and they speak it out advising their friends that it is not necessary to use it during their first sexual experience.
First – Evaluating knowledge on condom physiology as contraceptive method and protection against STI, more than a third part of teenagers in Bellavista de Cachiaco unknow how it works.
Second – In general terms, an elevated percentage of teenagers in Bellavista de Cachiaco unknows how to use a condom correctly, including five steps proposed by WHO.
Third – Majority of teenagers in Bellavista de Cachiaco is negatively proned to use a condom as protection against STI, as well as contraceptive method, that leads them to risky behaviors and situations turning them into a vulnerable population and –literally- unprotected before non-wanted pregnancy.
Fourth – Myths and believes before condom using are still present in more than a half of Bellavista de Cachiaco population, and unfavorable attitudes those lead on, are result of an unapproppriated information from adults, society, who are in charge of guiding and teaching teenagers.
In brief, if almost nobody knows how it is used, then almost nobody will have a possitive attitude about condoms. , It is practically unprotected sex. And this is the discussion point to empower or to improve any prevention strategy.
Do not give up on the debate.
Marco Paulini is a proffessional obsthetrician who lives in Sullana, Peru. He produced this report base don a research available in Spanish by writing at firstname.lastname@example.org . Edited and translated by Nelson Peñaherrera.
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