Condom use before marriage and its correlates: Evidence from India

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Context: Little evidence is available from India concerning young people's use of condoms in premarital relationships. Methods: Data from a subnationally representative study of Indian youth conducted in 2006-2008 were used to assess condom use in premarital relationships. Analyses used survey data from 2,408 married or unmarried youth aged 15-24 who had had premarital sex, and qualitative data from 271 such youth who completed in-depth interviews. Logistic regression was used to identify characteristics associated with four measures of condom use (ever-use, consistent use, use at first sex and use at last sex). Results: Only 7% of young women and 27% of young men who had had premarital sex had ever used condoms. Among both sexes, discomfort with approaching a provider or pharmacist for condoms was inversely correlated with most measures of condom use (odds ratios, 0.5), while having peers who had had premarital sex was generally positively correlated (1.6-2.9). Females who had had premarital sex only with nonromantic partners were less likely than those with only romantic partners to have used a condom at last sex (0.2), while males were generally more likely to use condoms with nonromantic than romantic partners (1.5-1.6). Among men, education level, age at sexual initiation and neighborhood economic status were positively associated with use. Conclusion: Programs that encourage condom use are needed. Service delivery structures should be modified to enable youth to obtain condoms easily and privately.