After finding out that 45% of Brazil's high-school students have an active sexual life and that 30% had not used a condom in their latest intercourse, most because they did not have one available, the Brazilian Ministry of Health has decided to expand its program of free distribution of condoms in schools.
Most Brazilian parents and students are in favor of having condoms distributed in schools, according to a UNESCO study. 89.5% of the students say that having rubbers offered at school isÂ "a cool idea"Â and 63% of the parents agree with them.
4.1% of the students as well as 6.7% of the teachers and 12% of the parents believe, however, that schools should be out of this.
The condom-for-youth program is part of the SPE (Health and Prevention in Schools) program whose main goal is to fight AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The UNESCO study interviewed 102,000 students from 135 schools in six capital cities. Among those who answered the questionnaire, 44.7% told they had an active sexual life. From these, 60.9 percent said they wore a condom in their first sexual encounter, while 69.7% revealed they did the same in their most recent intercourse.
According to the STD's National Program, the program of condom distribution in schools, which was implanted a decade ago, reaches now 17% of the Brazilian high schools.
The Brazilian government is already distributing 100 million camisinhas (little shirts) a year to youngsters who are 13 to 24 years old. Authorities haven't decided yet how and when the new program will be implemented, but automatic vending machines should play a big role in the distribution.
Brazil's health officials cite the UNESCO study to explain its aggressive policy of handing out condoms to the very young and they dismiss any criticism that their actions are stimulating precocious sexual relations.
"We already have a concrete decision for expansion," said Health Minister, Agenor ílvares.
His Department doesn't have precise data on how many schools are already giving away free condoms, but the 2005 school census shows that among learning institutions that talk about STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) 8.7% of elementary schools and 16.9% of high schools offer free male condoms to its students.
While 43% of the Brazilian students interviewed said that they hadn't used a condom in their latest sexual relation, 23% revealed that they trusted their partner enough not to bother to wear a rubber.
Another 21% confided that the reason they didn't wear a condom was that the device reduced their pleasure. Only 9.7% admitted they didn't have money to buy the product.