Two-thirds of the men with a primary sexual partner and one-third of those without a primary partner said they were not ready to use condoms consistently, say Diane Grimley, Ph.D., of University of Alabama at Birmingham and colleagues. The study was published in the American Journal of Health Behavior.
Men in more intimate relationships were among the least likely to consider using a condom regularly, the researchers found.
"The situation in which men reported the least confidence in using condoms with a main partner was the one in which they wanted their partner to know that they were 'committed to the relationship,'" Grimley says.
Among men with no main partner, those who used drugs and alcohol were the least likely to use condoms consistently
Grimley and colleagues surveyed attitudes toward condom use among 224 men who came to a Birmingham, Ala., STD clinic for treatment. Nearly two-thirds of the men said they had been previously diagnosed with one or more STDs at the clinic.
Most of the men said the biggest advantage of using condoms was "safety from disease," while the biggest disadvantage to condom use was "having to rely on a partner's cooperation."
Although the men said they were at risk for STDs, they "appear to cope with this risk by choosing to engage in secondary prevention -- seeking treatment -- rather than practicing ... preventive behavior such as consistent condom use," Grimley says.
Despite this, prevention is a critical challenge for "core groups" like STD clinic patients, the researchers say.
"If the focus remains on early detection without allocating resources for primary prevention with this population, the current 'revolving door' situation will be maintained," Grimley says.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
BY BECKY HAM, SCIENCE WRITER
HEALTH BEHAVIOR NEWS SERVICE
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