Safer sex and condom use: findings from the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships

Sex Health. 2014 Nov;11(5):495-504. doi: 10.1071/SH14102.


Background It is important to have current and reliable estimates of the frequency and correlates of condom use among Australian adults.

Methods: A representative sample of 20094 men and women aged 16-69 years, from all states and territories, completed computer-assisted telephone interviews. The overall participation rate among eligible people was 66.2%.

Results: Although most respondents had used a condom at some time in their lives, fewer than half of those who were sexually active in the year before being interviewed had used a condom in that year. Condom use in the last year was associated with youth, speaking a language other than English at home, bisexual identity, greater education, residence in major cities, lower income and having multiple sexual partners in the last year. One-quarter of respondents used a condom the last time they had vaginal intercourse and one-sixth of these were put on after genital contact. Condom use during most recent vaginal sex was associated with youth, lower income, having sex with a non-regular partner and not using another form of contraception. Condom use appears to have increased between 2001-02 and 2012-13.

Conclusion: Consistent with other research, this study showed that condom use was strongly associated with partner type and use of other contraception. There may be a need to highlight among people with multiple sexual partners the fact that non-barrier methods of contraception do not offer protection against sexually transmissible infections. The finding that many condoms were applied after genital contact suggests a need to promote both use and correct use of condoms.