Condom Use Among Young African Women Increasing, Could Impact Spread of HIV, Study Says
Condom use among young women in Africa has been increasing -- a finding that could impact efforts to control the spread of HIV on the continent -- according to a study published on Friday in the journal Lancet, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Mohamed Ali of the World Health Organization's department of reproductive health and research and John Cleland of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine from 1993 through 2001 analyzed data on sexual behavior changes among 132,800 women in 18 African countries. The researchers found that during the study period, condom use increased by more than threefold from 5.3% to 18.8%, with a median annual increase of 1.4%. According to the researchers, rates of abstinence among the women changed little over study period. The study indicates that condom use increased at about the same rate at which married couples began adopting contraceptive practices in developing countries from 1965 through 1998. According to Cleland, if the increase in condom use "continues or even accelerates, it's bound to make a dent on HIV transmission." Condom use might be further increased by integrating them with family planning services because 60% of single women in Africa use condoms to prevent pregnancy, according to the study. Some experts say the lack of increase in abstinence rates compared with condom use indicates that programs promoting condom use need more focus, according to the AP/Inquirer. Global AIDS Alliance Executive Director Paul Zeitz said the study shows that the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- which some critics say has emphasized abstinence over condom use -- has been misguided. Mark Dybul, who serves as the U.S. global AIDS coordinator and administers PEPFAR, said that the "data are clear" that HIV prevention programs should include abstinence, faithfulness and condom use components. He added that the U.S. this year will ship 486 million condoms worldwide -- an almost threefold increase over the amount shipped in 2001 (Cheng, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/17).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.