A survey conducted among the lower-class urban population of Delhi, India to describe the heterosexual behaviour, condom usage and awareness about STDs/AIDS revealed that 4.4% respondents had sex outside/before marriage. Female commercial sex workers, friends and neighbours were the important sexual partners. Heterosexual activity was significantly higher among males, unmarried, literates and middle/higher income groups. Almost half of those who had sex before/outside marriage never used a condom during the sexual encounter. Though only a small fraction of the population was found to be engaged in extra-/pre-marital sex, the overall impact of this may be multifold, given the nature and modes of HIV transmission. The superficial and inadequate knowledge regarding STDs/AIDS among this population, especially among those having extra-/pre-marital sex, indicates an urgent need for appropriately targeted health education and condom promotion activities in the community with an endeavour to increase awareness about STDs and HIV/AIDS and motivate people towards healthy sexual lifestyles.
PIP: Patterns of premarital and/or extramarital sex and condom use were investigated in a random sample of 1805 male and female residents of a lower-class urban resettlement colony in East Delhi, India, in 1993. The mean age of male respondents was 30.3 years, while that of females was 29.0 years. In the year preceding the survey, 80 respondents (4.4%) reported having premarital (n = 27) or extramarital (n = 53) sex. Such encounters were reported significantly more often by men, Hindus and Muslims, literates, and those with higher incomes. 70% of those reporting pre- or extramarital sex had heard of AIDS compared with 31.8% of those who had not engaged in these behaviors, but there was no difference between groups in knowledge of how to prevent AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. 48.8% of those who reported pre- or extramarital sex in the past year had never used a condom; more than three-quarters of the remaining respondents acknowledged irregular condom use, both with their spouse and other sex partners, including commercial sex workers. These findings indicate an immediate need for IEC campaigns in this population focused on the heterosexual transmission of AIDS and the importance of consistent condom use.