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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Safer sex and condom use: findings from the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships

Richard O. de Visser A I , Paul B. Badcock B C , Chris Rissel D , Juliet Richters E , Anthony M. A. Smith B H , Andrew E. Grulich F and Judy M. Simpson G

A School of Psychology, Pevensey 1, University of Sussex, Falmer BN1 9QH, UK.

B Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, 215 Franklin Street, Melbourne, Vic. 3000, Australia.

C Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, 35 Poplar Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.

D Sydney School of Public Health, Charles Perkins Centre (D17), University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

E School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

F The Kirby Institute, Wallace Wurth Building, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

G Sydney School of Public Health, Edward Ford Building (A27), University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

H Deceased.

I Corresponding author. Email: rd48@sussex.ac.uk

Sexual Health 11(5) 495-504 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SH14102
Submitted: 7 June 2014  Accepted: 23 August 2014   Published: 7 November 2014

Abstract

Background: It is important to have current and reliable estimates of the frequency and correlates of condom use among Australian adults. Methods: A representative sample of 20 094 men and women aged 16–69 years, from all states and territories, completed computer-assisted telephone interviews. The overall participation rate among eligible people was 66.2%. Results: Although most respondents had used a condom at some time in their lives, fewer than half of those who were sexually active in the year before being interviewed had used a condom in that year. Condom use in the last year was associated with youth, speaking a language other than English at home, bisexual identity, greater education, residence in major cities, lower income and having multiple sexual partners in the last year. One-quarter of respondents used a condom the last time they had vaginal intercourse and one-sixth of these were put on after genital contact. Condom use during most recent vaginal sex was associated with youth, lower income, having sex with a non-regular partner and not using another form of contraception. Condom use appears to have increased between 2001–02 and 2012–13. Conclusion: Consistent with other research, this study showed that condom use was strongly associated with partner type and use of other contraception. There may be a need to highlight among people with multiple sexual partners the fact that non-barrier methods of contraception do not offer protection against sexually transmissible infections. The finding that many condoms were applied after genital contact suggests a need to promote both use and correct use of condoms.

Additional keywords: contraception, cross-sectional studies, health surveys, HIV prevention, national survey, sexual behaviour, STI prevention.


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