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Many Men Don't Use Condoms

Because Men Deny Risk, STD Prevention Is Low Priority
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How Safe Are You? continued...

Despite strong beliefs that condoms could be effective in STD prevention, many men were not motivated to use condoms consistently, Grimley reports.

Of those men with one main sexual partner, two-thirds were not motivated to use condoms.

These men also gave little indication they would start using condoms for STD prevention, she explains.

"They wanted their partners to know that they were committed to the relationship," she writes. Other studies show similar attitudes, indicating that intimate relationship issues are important to many men, as well as women, she says.

Safety Is Often Not a Concern

Also, alcohol and drug users gave the least indication they would use condoms.

For many men, safety from disease does not play a central role in their decision-making about condoms, writes Grimley.

"These men do perceive themselves at high risk for STDs, but appear to cope with this risk" by getting treatment once they've got symptoms -- rather than preventing it with condoms, she writes.

Other researchers have found, too, that low-income minority men "calculate their risk and take actions based on what they have learned through their own observations and experiences," writes Grimley.

This study provides "an important window into condom use in a population that is potentially at risk," says Gail Wyatt PhD, associate director of the AIDS Institute at the UCLA School of Medicine. She is also author of the book, No More Clueless Sex: 10 Secrets to a Sex Life That Works for Both of You.

However, "you have be careful not to generalize this to other African-American men," Wyatt tells WebMD. In the South, and especially in Alabama, low-income men generally distrust medical researchers -- which could have affected the answers they gave, she says.

"It's important to look at ethnic minorities individually, to take time to understand the issues for each group," Wyatt says. "We know that health services utilization in the South, among poor people, is not the same as for people with jobs and health insurance."

Nonetheless, she says, "a number of studies involving ethnic minority men have shown that heterosexual men don't feel they need to use condoms. Even if they hear the message [to use condoms for STD prevention], they don't want to hear it."

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