African American men are at high risk of human immunodeficiency virus acquisition. Condom breakage is an understudied aspect of their sexual protective behavior. This study identified user errors leading to condom breakage using an event-specific analysis among young African American men newly diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Recruitment occurred in a publicly funded STD clinic located in a metropolitan area of the Southern United States. Of 296 African American men screened as eligible, 271 (91.5%) agreed to participate. Men completed a self-administered questionnaire. Men reporting condom use with men were excluded from the analysis, leaving an analytic sample of 264 men. The recall period was for the last time men used condoms for penile-vaginal sex (within the past 3 months).
More than one-fifth (21.2%) reported condom breakage. Each year of advancing age decreased the odds of breakage by 10% [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 0.90, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.81–0.99, P = 0.028]. Men who had used an oil-based lubricant were more than 3 times as likely to report breakage (AOR = 3.21, 95% CI = 1.48–7.00, P = 0.003) and those who completely unrolled the condom before putting it on were also about 3 times more likely to report breakage (AOR = 3.34, 95% CI = 1.76–6.50, P = 0.0001). The breakage rate for men indicating both errors, i.e., use of an oil-based lubricant and unrolling the condom before application, was 54.5% compared with 33.3% among those indicated either error, and 12.8% among those indicating neither error. Attributable risk for the 2 errors combined was 39%.
Condom breakage among this sample of men at high risk for human immunodeficiency virus infection was common. This problem could be mitigated by counseling men to avoid the use of oil-based lubricants and by teaching them basic condom application skills.
In a study of African American men recruited from an STD clinic, 21.2% reported condom breakage. Breakage was about 3 times more likely among men using oil-based lubricants and among those completely unrolling condoms before application.
From the *College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky; †Department of Applied Health Science, Indiana University; ‡Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; §Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University; ∥Emory Center for AIDS Research; ¶Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious, Diseases, Epidemiology, and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine; #Department of Medicine (Infectious Diseases), Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia; **Department of Applied Health Science at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; ††Louisville Metropolitan Department of Health and Wellness, Louisville, Kentucky; and ‡‡University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences
The authors thank the assistance of the Clinic Director (Deborah Snow) and the clinic staff members.
Supported by a grant from NIMH (R21 MH066682-01A1) (to R.C.).
Correspondence: Richard Crosby, PhD, College of Public Health, 121 Washington Ave. Lexington, KY 40506-0003. E-mail: email@example.com.
Received for publication February 20, 2007, and accepted August 10, 2007.