Do people who have the most sex partners use condoms the least?

Objectives:To explore the changing pattern of condom use from 1990 to 2000; to identify sociodemographic and behavioural factors associated with condom use; and reasons for condom use in 2000.

Methods:Large probability sample surveys administered among those resident in Britain aged 16–44 (n = 13 765 in 1990, n = 11 161 in 2000). Face to face interviews with self completion components collected sociodemographic, behavioural, and attitudinal data.

Results:Condom use in the past year among sexually active 16–24 year old men increased from 61.0% in 1990 to 82.1% in 2000 (p<0.0001), and from 42.0% to 63.2% (p<0.0001) among women of the same age, with smaller increases among older age groups. Among individuals reporting at least two partners in the previous 4 week period, approximately two thirds reported inconsistent or no condom use (63.1% (95% CI 55.9% to 69.8%) of the men and 68.5% (95% CI 57.6% to 77.7%) of the women).

Conclusions:Rates of condom use increased substantially between 1990 and 2000, particularly among young people. However, inconsistent condom use by individuals with high rates of partner acquisition may contribute significantly to the recent resurgence in STIs. This group is an important target for intensive and specific sexual health interventions.

Source: “Who uses condoms with whom? Evidence from national probability sample surveys” from Sex Transm Infect2006;82:467-473 doi:10.1136/sti.2005.019117

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