In AIDS Cities, Education Increases Condom Use, Cuts Sexual Activity

Education and counseling programs in eight large U.S. cities with high rates of AIDS have increased condom use by high school students and reduced the number of sexually active youths, federal health officials said yesterday.

Surveys of more than 40,000 public school students in grades 9 through 12 showed that they were less sexually active and more likely to use condoms in 1997 than students were in 1991, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

In all eight cities, there were declines in the number of students who had ever had sexual intercourse, who had already had four or more sexual partners, or who had sexual intercourse in the three months preceding the survey. The proportion of students who had used condoms during their last sexual intercourse also increased, the CDC said.

The CDC based its findings on questionnaires given to students in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Jersey City, N.J., in 1992, 1993, 1995 and 1997.

While the percentage of students who had ever had sexual intercourse declined in all eight cities during the 1990s, the CDC said the decline was statistically significant only in Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Fort Lauderdale. Among those cities, the decrease ranged from 7 percent in Dallas to 16 percent in Chicago.

The percentage of students who had already had four or more sexual partners also decreased significantly in the same four cities, ranging from 12 percent in Fort Lauderdale to 33 percent in Chicago.

The CDC said the decline in the percentage of students who had sexual intercourse in the three months before the survey was statistically significant in Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale and Philadelphia, ranging from an 8 percent drop in Dallas to a 16 percent decline in Chicago.

Condom use increased significantly in Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Jersey City, Miami, and Philadelphia between 1991 to 1997, ranging from a 25 percent increase in Dallas to a 52 percent increase in Jersey City.

Acupuncture and Blood Pressure

Acupuncture works on natural chemicals known as endorphins to lower blood pressure and treat heart disease, researchers reported.

Tests on cats showed the 3,000-year-old technique has clear physical effects on the endorphin system, often called the body's natural opiate system because of the way it regulates muscle function and pain.

John Longhurst of the University of California at Irvine, and Li Peng of Shanghai Medical University in China, found that injections of naloxone, a drug that interferes with the endorphin system, blocked the ability of acupuncture to lower blood pressure in cats.

Longhurst and Li used a chemical known as bradykinin, which is released naturally in response to infections, to raise the blood pressure of the cats. Acupuncture interfered with the ability of bradykinin to raise blood pressure, but when naloxone was added to the mix blood pressure went up again.