Background: The protective effect of condom use is controversial as a result of limited data.
Goal: The goal of this study was to assess the association between condom use errors in consistent condom users and the prevalence of various sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Study: We conducted a cross-sectional study of visits to an urban STD clinic between January 2001 and January 2003, by women, men who have sex with women (MSW), and men who have sex with men (MSM) by consistent condom users with or without a condom use error.
Methods: Prevalence rates were calculated for gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomonas, nongonococcal urethritis (NGU), and pelvic inflammatory disease. Rates were stratified by reported errors in condom use over the past 4 months for consistent users with adjusted odds ratios calculated by logistic regression.
Results: Among 1973 consistent condom users with error information available, any condom use error was reported more commonly among women (57%) than MSW (48%), or MSM (P <0.001 for each comparison), with breakage being the most frequently reported error. Among MSW, having a condom use error was associated with gonorrhea (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 5.53; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.48–12.35), chlamydia (AOR, 3.19; 95% CI, 1.80–5.65), and NGU (AOR, 2.09; 95% CI, 1.45–3.01), whereas, for women and MSM, no associations were seen for any STD.
Conclusions: Condom use errors were common among subjects reporting consistent condom use and for MSW, condom error was associated with a significant increased risk of STD. These data support the premise that correctness of condom use is an important methodologic issue in studies assessing condom effectiveness.