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Condoms and developmental contexts in younger adolescent boys


Background Condom use is a key part of sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention for young men. Yet little is known about how younger adolescent boys initially learn about and use condoms. We examined sources of information, attitudes towards, acquisition, practice and early use of condoms among 14–16-year-old boys.

Methods Thirty 14–16-year-old boys were recruited from a teen clinic serving a community with high STI rates and were asked open-ended questions about condoms, such as, “Where did you learn about condoms?” and “In what situations would you/would you not, use condoms.” Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and coded. Qualitative analysis focused upon key concepts and shared social cognitions related to condom use.

Results Both sexually inexperienced and experienced participants perceived that sex feels or would feel less pleasurable with condoms. For almost all participants, families were the primary source of both information about condoms and of condoms themselves. This information focused on pregnancy prevention, with STIs secondary. Participants' views of condoms fell into three developmental groups: not interested in condoms and equating their use with interest in sex; exploring condoms out of either curiosity or in preparation for sex; and experienced with condom use. Exploring included behaviours such as checking condoms out and trying them on.

Conclusions Our findings of existing negative perceptions of condoms, the importance of families in learning about condoms and the developmental need to test and try on condoms before use have implications for adolescent STI prevention programmes.

  • Condoms
  • adolescence
  • males
  • sexually transmitted diseases
  • sexual behaviour
  • development
  • qualitative research

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