Guam: Teens Face Obstacles in Obtaining Condoms, Birth Control

According to government statistics, more than 50 percent of sexually active Guam youth have not used protection, despite the fact that the law requires the Guam Department of Education to teach students about HIV/AIDS and STD prevention. The Department of Public Health and Human Services held a weeklong training workshop June 17–21 for nurses and health educators, where they presented the 2011 Youth Risk Survey results. According to the survey, approximately 68 percent of Guam's sexually active high school students did not use a condom during their last act of sexual intercourse, which placed them at risk for STDs and early, unplanned pregnancies. The Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) encourages teachers to educate students about human sexuality from a public health perspective.

STD/HIV Prevention Program Director Bernie Schuman, however, explained that Guam's teenagers have faced obstacles, such as the lack of accessibility to transportation and condoms. Guam's public schools have provided STD prevention information per the law, but have not provided condoms; rather, the Public Health Department has provided them, but required teens under the age of 18 to receive counseling beforehand. Schuman noted that in traveling anywhere in Guam, including to a public health center, teens needed to ask their parents for a ride, but often these teens did not want their parents to know that they were thinking of partaking in sexual activity. Schuman declared, "The ones [teens] that come in are able to get access to prevention counseling with an emphasis on abstinence."

Guam's stores also have varying policies about condom sales. Some stores have not sold condoms to anyone under the age of 19, and other stores, not to anyone under 18. Certain stores have sold them without any restrictions, while another has sold condoms kept behind the customer service counter, requiring customers to seek a sales clerk's assistance. One Guam store has made it a policy not to sell condoms.