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Prevalence of Knowledge and Use of the Female Condom in South Africa


Male condoms remain a key tool in preventing the spread of HIV and the female condom (FC) holds similar potential. Using data collected through a national cross-sectional population survey that was conducted in 2008, this report investigated the national prevalence of FC knowledge and use by sexually active males and females (n = 7,727) over the age of 15 years in South Africa, followed by a closer examination of the sexually active female population alone. Though knowledge of the FC among sexually active females over the age of 15 years (n = 4,551) was relatively high at 77.75 %, use was low at 7.16 %. The present study found statistically significant associations between knowledge or use of the FC and several demographic variables for females in South Africa. Having heard of the FC was consistently associated with locality, province, age, education level, marital status, and employment status. Use of the FC, however, was only associated with province and age group. Many demographic groups exhibited a high prevalence of knowledge but a low level of use; or conversely, a low prevalence of knowledge but a high level of use compared to their counterparts. Our findings support the need for a rigorous campaign to promote the use of FCs by women and also to increase their availability in public health sector facilities such as government clinics and hospitals in order to improve the chance of women using the FC, a cost-effective device that has the potential to protect both their rights and lives.

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This research has been supported by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through CDC under the terms of Cooperative Agreement Number U2GPS000570-03. The Fiona M. Guerra was supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) International Youth Internship Program (IYIP) during her sojourn at the HSRC from June 2012 until December 2012. The authors would like to thank HSRC staff who were involved in both planning and implementing the 2008 South African National HIV Prevalence, HIV Incidence, Behaviour and Communications Survey as well as the South African public for agreeing to participate in the survey.

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Correspondence to Leickness C. Simbayi.

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Guerra, F.M., Simbayi, L.C. Prevalence of Knowledge and Use of the Female Condom in South Africa. AIDS Behav 18, 146–158 (2014).

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  • Female condom
  • HIV prevention for women
  • South Africa
  • Women’s sexual and reproductive rights