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Survey shows decline in condom use among South African youth

Condom use involving sex with a non-married, non-cohabiting partner among South African youth between the ages of 16-24 years in the country's three largest cities declined between 2006 and 2010, a survey by non-profit organisation Society for Family Health (SFH) has shown.
(Image: Carlos T, via Wikimedia Commons)
The research, conducted in major metro areas in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban as part of SFH's Tracking Results Continuously (TRaC) survey, found that there was a decline in the percentage of both males and females who used condoms at last sex with non-married and non-cohabiting (NMNC) partners between 2006 and 2010.

"Between 2006 and 2010, there was a significant drop from 87.6 to 81.6% for males and a statistically insignificant decline from 73.6 to 69.3% among females who used condoms at last sex with a non-married and non-cohabiting partner," SFH research and monitoring and evaluation manager Ntsiki Manzini said.

"Consistent condom use with non-married and non-cohabiting partners, which tracks more regular condom use, fell significantly among females from 58.7-47.4% between 2006 and 2010, but the decline among males - from 63.7-61.8% - was statistically insignificant," she added.

The proportion of young males able to identify the steps correctly for correct condom use remained low, with only 12.6% of respondents able to identify 6 of the 7 potential steps in correct condom use. However, since the responses were unprompted, it was unclear if this reflected a lack of knowledge, or if the respondents simply did not provide sufficiently detailed responses.

Insights 'very worrying'

"The insights are very worrying and all the more reason for us to make a more concerted effort to reach youth with messages about correct and consistent condom use," said Tlangelani Shilubane senior programme manager of SFH's YouthAIDS programme targeted at South African youths.
"Even though condom use is still high, there is a decline over the past four years, and there is evidence that the youth are not using condoms correctly," she added.

Condoms are one of the main methods of HIV prevention in South Africa, which has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world.

According to the United Nations, more than 5.7 million of South Africa's 50 million people are living with HIV. The Human Sciences Research Council's 2008 National Prevalence, Incidence, Behaviour and Communication survey showed that HIV prevalence among South African youth between the ages of 15-24 was at 8.7% in 2008.


  • YouthAIDS is an Interpersonal Communications programme targeting youths and run by Society for Family Health, one of South Africa's leading HIV prevention organisations.
  • YouthAIDS promotes healthy behaviour for HIV prevention, including abstinence, delayed sexual debut, mutual fidelity, "Know Your Status" and correct and consistent condom use for those who are sexually active.
  • YouthAIDS targets and educates youth through a variety of appealing and evidence based methods. These include the use of participatory activities such as, peer education, mobile promotions and interactive radio talk shows.
  • In 2010, YouthAIDS reached 1.2 million young people in South Africa through in-school and out-of-school programmes using the various above mentioned activities.
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