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Abstract

Objective To provide reliable estimates of the frequency of condom use and correlates of condom use among Australian adults.

MethodsComputer-assisted telephone interviews were completed by a representative sample of 10,173 men and 9,134 women aged 16–59 years. The response rate was 73.1% (69.4% men, 77.6% women).

Results: Although the majority of respondents had used a condom at some time in their lives, fewer than half of the respondents who were sexually active in the year before being interviewed had used a condom in the past year. Condom use in the past year was associated with youth, greater education, residence in major cities, lower incomes, white-collar occupations, being a former smoker, and having more sexual partners in the past year. In the six months prior to interview, 7.1% of respondents always used condoms with regular cohabiting partners, 22.5% always used condoms with regular non-cohabiting partners, and 41.4% always used condoms with casual partners. Approximately 20% of respondents used a condom the last time they had vaginal intercourse, and one in eight of these condoms were put on after genital contact. Condom use during the most recent sexual encounter was associated with youth, living in a major city, having a lower income, having sex with a casual partner, and not using another form of contraception.

Conclusion As in other studies, condom use was strongly associated with partner type and use of other contraception.

Implications: People with multiple sexual partners need to be aware that non-barrier methods of contraception (and condoms applied late) do not protect against sexually transmitted infections.