Aim: This paper is a report of a study of sexually active young women's experiences of negotiating condom use both before and after diagnosis of a sexually transmitted infection.
Background: The male condom is the most efficient method in preventing and reducing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections. However, condom use can be hindered by factors including societal norms and gender roles, which can create difficulties for women in initiating and negotiating condom use in heterosexual partnerships.
Methodology: A feminist narrative approach was used, and ten women's stories were collected via online interviews in 2007.
Findings: None of the women initiated or negotiated use of the male condom for various reasons. Some relied on their male partners to initiate condom use, some were unable to practise safer sex due to the abuse and unequal gender dynamics that existed in their sexual relationships, and some thought that condom use was not necessary because of a belief that they were in safe and monogamous relationships. Even following diagnosis of a sexually transmitted infection, some women said that they were not empowered enough to initiate condom use with subsequent sexual partners, resulting in continued high-risk sexual behaviour.
Conclusion: Successful condom promotion relies on the recognition of the gender factors that impede young women's condom negotiation and use. Strategies that overcome gender dynamics and empower women to negotiate condom use have the ability to promote condom use among this group.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.