Objective: To explore the extent of the condom gap, investigating the relative roles of supply-side and demand-side factors in determining condom use.
Design: GPS mapping of condom outlets, and population-based survey.
Methods: An urban and a rural site were selected within the Epidemiological and Demographic Surveillance Site in Kilifi district, Kenya. Potential condom outlets (n = 281) were mapped and surveyed, and questionnaires on condom access and use (n = 630) were administered to a random sample of men and women aged 15–49. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to assess the relative roles of supply-side and demand-side barriers on condom use.
Results: The median straight-line distance to free condoms was 18-fold higher in the rural versus urban site. Among sexually active respondents, 42% had ever used a condom, and 23% had used a condom over the past 12 months, with lower levels among rural versus urban respondents (P < 0.05). The mean number of condoms used was 2.2/person per year among all sexually active individuals (condom users and nonusers), amounting to 8.2% protected sex acts/person per year. The adjusted odds of condom use (past 12 months) were 8.1 times greater among individuals experiencing no supply-side or demand-side barriers, compared with individuals experiencing both types of barriers. Despite low levels of usage and the presence of supply-side and demand-side barriers, reported unmet need for condoms was low.
Conclusions: There is an urgent need for renewed condom promotion efforts aimed at building demand, in addition to improving physical access, in resource-limited settings with generalized HIV epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa.