Condom use among married and cohabiting women and its implications for HIV infection in Mahikeng, South Africa
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Married and cohabiting women have been neglected in the promotion of condoms as the most effective prevention method of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. As a result, HIV prevalence is increasing in this population group in high HIV prevalence settings. The study assesses the prevalence of and identifies the predictors of consistent use of male condoms among married and cohabiting women, and examines its implications for HIV transmission. The data used were obtained from a cross-sectional survey on sexual and reproductive health conducted among women aged 18–49 years of age in Mahikeng Local Municipality in 2012 using mixed methods. A structured questionnaire and in-depth interview guide were used to collect quantitative data from 568 and qualitative data from 33 married or cohabiting women. The data were analysed using logistic regression and thematic content analysis methods. The results show that only 16.2% of the women consistently used condoms. Women having no and 1–2 surviving children, educated women, women in relationships in which most sexual decisions were jointly made with husbands/partners, women having high risk perceptions of STIs and HIV infection and women who negotiate condom use with and know the HIV status of their husbands/partners were significantly more likely to have consistently used condoms. However, women who perceived that condoms reduce sexual pleasure, feared they would be blamed for infidelity by husbands/partners, trusted that their husbands/partners were faithful and feared condoms could lead to relationship instability used condoms inconsistently. We conclude that the prevalence of consistent use of condoms by married and cohabiting women in the study is low, indicating that promotion of condoms among married or cohabiting women is neglected, which could increase the risk of HIV transmission. Based on our findings, we recommend the review of condom programmes with a view to targeting married or cohabiting couples as an important group for condom promotion and uptake.
KeywordsMarital relationships Male condoms STIs and HIV Behavioural change Mahikeng
The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Population and Health Research Focus Area at North-West University, Mafikeng Campus. We also thank the research subjects and research assistants for participating in the study and collecting the data used in this manuscript.
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