The trends in contraceptive uptake and condom use among single and married young women show distinct patterns in sub-Saharan Africa. A large median increase of 1.4 percentage points per year in condom use by single young women for pregnancy prevention was witnessed in 18 countries based on Demographic and Health Survey data from 1993 to 2001. In contrast, a modest increase in condom use was noted for married or cohabiting young women. Condom promotion in Africa has been, therefore, a success for single women. Its promotion for pregnancy prevention offers even greater potential, as pregnancy prevention is the main or partial motive of most single women who use condoms. While a myriad of research studies on condom use among young single people have been conducted and published, the needs of the married and cohabiting population have been neglected by researchers and programme staff alike, despite the fact that more than half of HIV infections in the severe epidemics of Southern and East Africa are occurring in this group. The barriers to condom adoption by married couples may not be as severe as is often assumed. [Abstract also available in French and Spanish].
Reproductive Health Matters (2006)14 (28). pp. 17-22 [doi:10.1016/S0968-8080(06)28250-8]