A study released last week found that some Brazilian youth engage in risky sexual and drug practices.
The report from the Universidade Federal de São Paulo (Federal University of São Paulo or the acronym UNIFESP), 34.1% of 1742 young Brazilians between the age of 14 and 25 either rarely or do not use condoms whenever they engage in sexual intercourse. Of this percentage, a slightly high percentage of young women prefer to not use contraception in comparison to young men (38% compared to roughly 33%).
The Brazilian Health Ministry advises people to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases and undesirable pregnancies by using a condom. As a result, health officials have distributed of millions of free prophylactics through campaigns such as the one in the video at the top of this post. (About 493 million condoms were given away to young Brazilians in 2011 based on the Health Ministry data).
A March 2013 poll found that 83% of Brazilians favor condom use yet their distribution has come under fire from religious activists who back abstinence.
“In this carnival do not have sex. Keep yourself holy for marriage, because family is good,” said legislator Alexandre Padilha in 2012.
“Despite widespread awareness of condoms, 40% of young people in Brazil do not use condoms in all sexual relations, according to the health department,” mentioned a CNN.com article from 2012.
The UNIFESP’s data regarding condom use might explain why the study concluded that 32% of female respondents between the age of 14 and 20 have been pregnant at least once in their lives. Furthermore it’s believed that 12.4% of them either miscarried or underwent an abortion, which is a procedure that’s legal in Brazil but only if the life of the woman in danger or if the pregnancy is caused by a rape.
“Within the statistics on abortion, we believe that 8% of young women went through with an abortion,” said UNIFESP researcher Clarice Sandi Madruga.
“Most of the time, these abortions are done in clandestine clinics, which put the girls under risk,” she added.
In other findings on Brazilian youth from the “National Study on Alcohol and Drugs”:
- 36% consume alcohol every week and “in moderation”.
- Three in ten young men admitted to drunk driving over the past year.
- Nearly one in five men between the ages of 18 and 25 smoke tobacco.
- Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal narcotic among young Brazilians although it was taken by only 5% of respondents.
- Cocaine is the most popular drug among young women.
- Most people under the age of 16 attend school yet 18% of all respondents are “inactive” and neither work nor study.
Online Sources - Brazilian Health Ministry; El Espectador; Noticias R7; Slate.com; CNN; The Guardian; Christian Post