Canadian teens and young adults appear to be using condoms more often than they used to, Statistics Canada says.
The agency reported Wednesday on sexual activity, condom use and sexually transmitted infections among people aged 15 to 24.
In 2009-2010, 68 per cent of those who said they were sexually active reported using condoms the last time they had intercourse. That’s up from 62 per cent in 2003, the agency said.
"Despite this increase, more than three in 10 young adults did not use condoms the last time they had intercourse," said study author Michelle Rotermann.
Reported condom use was lower than the national average in Quebec and Manitoba and higher in Ontario, Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
In the most recent survey, nine per cent of teens and youth reported they first had sex when they were younger than 15.
About a quarter had had intercourse for the first time at age 15 or 16, about the same as in 2003.
At that time, similar percentages of males and females reporting having had intercourse before age 15. By 2009-2010, it was less common among females (eight per cent) than males (10 per cent).
About one-third of those who were sexually active reporting having more than one partner in the previous year.
Condom use declined with age from 80 per cent among those aged 15 to 17 to 63 per cent among those aged 20 to 24.
The pattern may reflect that the older group tends to use other forms of birth control, such as the pill. They also may be more likely to be in longer-term monogamous relationships in which partners perceive less risk of contracting HIV and other STIs.
The data was self-reported and respondents might change their answers to present a more favourable image depending on their perception of what “desirable” is, the agency noted.