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, 13 (12), e0209779

Non-consensual Condom Removal, Reported by Patients at a Sexual Health Clinic in Melbourne, Australia


Non-consensual Condom Removal, Reported by Patients at a Sexual Health Clinic in Melbourne, Australia

Rosie L Latimer et al. PLoS One.

Erratum in


Background: Non-consensual removal of condoms, colloquially referred to as 'stealthing', is the removal of a condom during sex by a sexual partner when consent has been given for sex with a condom only.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey to determine how commonly women and men who have sex with men (MSM) attending Melbourne Sexual Health Centre had experienced stealthing, and analysed situational factors associated with the event. Responses were linked to demographic information extracted from patient files.

Results: 1189 of 2883 women (41.2%), and 1063 of 3439 MSM (30.9%) attending the clinic during the study period completed the survey. Thirty-two percent of women (95% CI: 29%,35%) and 19% of MSM (95% CI: 17%,22%) reported having ever experienced stealthing. Women who had been stealthed were more likely to be a current sex worker (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] 2.87, 95% CI: 2.01,4.11, p <0.001). MSM who had experienced stealthing were more likely to report anxiety or depression (AOR 2.13, 95% CI: 1.25,3.60, p = 0.005). Both female and male participants who had experienced stealthing were three times less likely to consider it to be sexual assault than participants who had not experienced it (OR 0.29, 95% CI: 0.22,0.4 and OR 0.31, 95% CI: 0.21,0.45 respectively).

Conclusions: A high proportion of women and MSM attending a sexual health service reported having experienced stealthing. While further investigation is needed into the prevalence of stealthing in the general community, clinicians should be aware of this practice and consider integrating this question into their sexual health consultation. Understanding situational factors would assist in the development of preventive strategies, particularly female sex workers and MSM.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Fig 1
Fig 1. Possible pathways for patients offered the survey, and the classification for analysis of nonconsensual condom removal.
Abbreviations: MSM = men who have sex with men; CASI = computer assisted self-interviewing. aParticipants were classified as never having experienced stealthing if they responded either: 1) they had never had a condom removed during sex, 2) that a condom had been removed with permission, or 3) that a condom was removed without permission but they willingly continued sex. bParticipants were deemed to have experienced stealthing if they reported: 4) condom removal without permission and sex continued unwillingly, 5) condom removal without permission and sex was discontinued, 6) condom removal during sex but they did not realise until afterwards, or 7) the condom was never put on despite being requested.

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    1. Brodsky A. "Rape-Adjacent": Imaging Legal Responses to Nonconsensual Condom Removal. Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. 2017;32(2):183–210.
    1. Brennan J. Stealth breeding: bareback without consent. Psychology & Sexuality. 2017;8(4):318–33. 10.1080/19419899.2017.1393451 - DOI
    1. Holmes KK, Levine R, Weaver M. Effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted infections. Bull World Health Organ. 2004;82(6):454–61. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Pinkerton SD, Abramson PR. Effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV transmission. Social Science & Medicine. 1997;44(9):1303–12. 10.1016/s0277-9536(96)00258-4 - DOI - PubMed
    1. Weller SC, Davis-Beaty K, Weller SC. Condom effectiveness in reducing heterosexual HIV transmission. 2002. 10.1002/14651858.cd003255 - DOI

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Grant support

RLL and VJC are supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship. TRHR and EPFC are supported by NHMRC early career fellowship no.1091536, 1091226, respectively. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.