The aim of this study was to examine the factors contributing to the increase in condom use among college students in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and some of the barriers to consistent condom use. The data were drawn from six focus group discussions with male and female students aged 18-24 in three public tertiary education institutions, supplemented by a survey of 3,000 students aged 17-24. Condoms had become \"part of sex\" and highly acceptable to the great majority, and were easily accessible. They were primarily being used for preventing pregnancy; many students liked not having to go to a health facility for supplies. Less than half of male and only a third of female students thought male partners had greater influence over the decision whether a condom was used. If a woman requested condoms, men and women agreed the man must comply. Some men were suspicious of women who agreed to have unprotected sex. Almost 75% of sexually active students surveyed reported condom use at last sexual intercourse, but consistent condom use, reported by only a quarter, remains the main challenge. It may be more effective to promote condoms for contraception among sexually active young people than for HIV prevention. Condoms have become the most commonly used contraceptive method among students, and this trend should be reinforced.
Reproductive Health Matters (2006) 14 (28) pp.104-112 [doi:10.1016/S0968-8080(06)28253-3].