Exploring gender and partner communication: Theory of Planned Behavior predictors for condom use among young, urban adults in Zambia

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Objective: To understand how knowledge and perceptions of condoms and partner communication influence use of condoms in a high HIV prevalence setting and gender‐specific differences. Methods: A cross‐sectional study was conducted in Zambia from 2015 to 2016. The survey included questions on demographics, sexual behavior contraceptive perceptions, and behaviors. We constructed multivariate regression models using the Theory of Planned Behavior to determine associations between knowledge, perceptions, and perceived control with intended, communicated, and reported use of condoms by gender. Results: The participants were 2388 sexually active urban residents aged 18–24 years. In the sample, 1646 (69%) were female, 841 (35%) married, and 1894 (61%) unemployed. Partner communication was the predictor most associated with use of condoms. Among women, partner communication was associated with over three times higher odds of condom use (odds ratio [OR] 3.51, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.65–4.65) but being married reduced the odds of condom use by 76% (OR 0.24, 95% CI 0.17–0.33). For men, a network of friends that was supportive of the use of contraception was associated with increased odds of 55% for use of condoms (OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.10–2.18). Conclusion: Public health programs aimed at increasing safer sexual behavior and use of condoms must consider improving gender equity and partner communication as knowledge of contraceptives and positive perceptions are not enough to ensure their use.