Objectives: To examine the association between type of sexual partnership and condom use consistency.
Design: A prospective follow-up study of women attending two urban clinics for sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
Methods: Sexual diaries recording barrier method, partner initials and partner type for each act of intercourse were kept by 869 women. Condom use by partner type was evaluated in three ways in the entire group: among women who encountered multiple partners, during months in which women encountered multiple partners, and within sexual partnerships that changed status during the study.
Results: Consistency of condom use was higher with new and casual partners than with regular partners in the entire group and among women who encountered multiple partners. In months in which partners of different types were encountered, condom-use consistency was higher with new and casual partners than with regular partners. Consistent condom use decreased in partnerships that changed status from new to regular. The female condom was used more often with regular partners than with new or casual partners in the entire study group, among women who encountered multiple partners, and during months in which a woman achieved consistent use with her regular partner.
Conclusions: This study provides strong evidence that condom use behavior is modified by partner type. Observations about condom use and partner type made in cross-sectional or retrospective surveys also hold in the present longitudinal analyses of individual women and of partnerships that change status. The female condom may be an important option for achieving consistent protection within stable partnerships.