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26 January 2004
STDs Preferable To Condom Use For Many Men
by George Atkinson

Some men are still not willing to use condoms, even after acquiring a sexually transmitted infection, according to a new survey of African-American clinic patients. The study was published in the American Journal of Health Behavior.

Two-thirds of the men with a primary sexual partner and one-third of those without a primary partner said they were not ready to use condoms consistently, say Diane Grimley, of the University of Alabama. Men in more intimate relationships were among the least likely to consider using a condom regularly, the survey found.

"The situation in which men reported the least confidence in using condoms with a main partner was the one in which they wanted their partner to know that they were 'committed to the relationship,'" Grimley says.

Men who used drugs and alcohol, with no main partner, were the least likely to use condoms consistently. Grimley and her colleagues surveyed attitudes toward condom use among men who came to an Alabama STD clinic for treatment. Around two-thirds of the men said they had been previously diagnosed with one or more STDs at the clinic. Many of the men said the biggest advantage of using condoms was "safety from disease," while the biggest disadvantage to condom use was "having to rely on a partner's cooperation."

While the men understood the risks associated with contracting STDs, Grimley said they "appear to cope with this risk by choosing to engage in secondary prevention - seeking treatment - rather than practicing preventive behavior such as consistent condom use."

"If the focus remains on early detection without allocating resources for primary prevention with this population, the current 'revolving door' situation will be maintained," said Grimley.

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