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Study Looks at How Young Males Get Information About AIDS and STDs After High School

March 17, 2000

A study in the January/February issue of Family Planning Perspectives examines where young men obtain new information about the prevention of STDs/HIV and whether they carry the prevention messages that they received as adolescents with them in their 20s.

Researchers looked at data from 1,290 young men who participated in three waves of the National Survey of Adolescent Males (NSAM). The first wave was conducted in 1988 when respondents were between the ages of 15 and 19; the second wave was completed in 1991 when respondents were between the ages of 17 and 22; and the final wave was conducted in 1995 when respondents were between the ages of 22 and 26.

The article presents detailed results from the 1995 NSAM data as well as analysis based on all three waves.



Sources of Information, 1995

  • 96% of respondents recalled having heard prevention messages concerning AIDS or STDs through the media in the last year.

  • 48% of respondents reported having received prevention information from a brochure or lecture in the last year.

  • 40% of respondents reported having talked about AIDS or STDs with a family member or friend in the last year.

  • 33% of respondents reported having talked about AIDS or STDs with a wife or a girlfriend in the last year.

  • 22% of respondents reported talking to a doctor or nurse about AIDS, STDs, or condoms in the last year.


  • Non-hispanic black men and hispanic men were more likely than white men to report having received prevention messages in the past year.

  • Black and hispanic men were more likely than white men to report having talked with someone about AIDS or STDs.

Sexuality Education

  • 56% of respondents reported receiving formal sexuality education, primarily school-based, by the age of 17 on one to four of the following topics: STDs, AIDS, safe sex, birth control methods, and where to obtain birth control.

  • 34% of respondents reported receiving formal sexuality education on all five topics.

  • 10% reported receiving no formal sexuality education.

Parental Involvement

  • 64% of respondents reported having talked to parents about one to five of the following sexuality topics: menstrual cycle, how pregnancy occurs, STDs, contraceptive methods, AIDS, and what to do if pregnancy occurs.

  • 15% reported talking to parents about all six of these topics.

  • 21% reported not talking to their parents about sexuality.

The authors note that black and hispanic men are much more likely to receive general information about reproductive health -- especially from health care providers. They suggest that this may be due to the targeting of youth in communities of color for prevention efforts. In addition, they suggest that medical professionals may have implicitly labeled these men as at risk for HIV and STDs while at the same time ignoring this risk for sexually active white males.

Another important finding of this study is that young men who receive early communication about AIDS and STDs were more likely to receive prevention messages in young adulthood. For example, respondents who reported having spoken with a parent about all six sexuality education topics in 1988 were much more likely to report having spoken with a health care professional about STDs or AIDS in the last year. According to the authors, this might suggest that discussions with influential people can have lasting effects and may continue to prompt self interest or concerns years later.

However, they note that having received formal sexuality education before the age of 17 is not significantly associated with having received disease prevention information later in life.

The authors conclude that "from a lifetime perspective, young adulthood is the age of greatest sexual risk. . . . Despite this, young adults are less likely to receive prevention messages at this age than when they are in high school." One problem is that there are no universal institutions such as junior high or high schools that can reach all young adults. The authors recommend community programs aimed at young adults, more contact between young adults and medical professionals, and a change in social norms in order to foster more conversations between young adults and family members or friends.

For more information:

C. H. Brandner, et al, "Older, But Not Wiser: How Men Get Information About AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Disease After High School," Family Planning Perspectives, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 33-8.


Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crime is a guide for schools produced by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). It is designed to be a source of information and to help schools and school districts deal with these issues.

The guide defines and describes harassment and hate crimes, contains information about applicable laws, details specific positive steps that schools can take to prevent and respond to harassment, includes sample policies and procedures used by school districts in the United States, and identifies additional resource materials. Single copies are free.

For more information:

U. S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
Mary E. Switzer Building
330 C Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20202
Phone: 800/421-3481
Fax: 202/205-9862
Web site:

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This article was provided by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is a part of the publication SHOP Talk: School Health Opportunities and Progress Bulletin.
See Also
More Statistics on Young People and HIV/AIDS in the U.S.