The Measurement of Condom Use in Four Countries in East and Southern Africa
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Measurement of condom use is important to assess progress in increasing use. Since 2003, the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and AIDS Indicator Surveys (AIS) have included new measures of self-reported condom use. We use data from Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Zambia to compare measures of condom use accounting for type of sexual partner. Condom use at last sex ranged from 20% in Tanzania to 57% in Namibia for men, and from 12% in Tanzania to 41% in Namibia for women. Reported condom use was lower in response to questions about condom use every time with last partner (from 13 to 47% for men and from 8 to 33% for women). Condom use was highest among people with two or more partners in the last year and lowest with marital partners. Overall, the prevalence of condom use was low, and there was wide variability across the various measures, countries, sexes, and types of partner. Promotion of condom use in all partnerships, but especially in non-marital relationships and among individuals with multiple partners, remains a critical strategy. New condom use questions in the DHS and AIS expand options for measuring and studying condom use.