Prevalence of knowledge and use of the female condom in South Africa
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Male condoms remain a key tool in preventing the spread of HIV and the female condom (FC) holds similar potential. Using data collected through a national cross-sectional population survey that was conducted in 2008, this report investigated the national prevalence of FC knowledge and use by sexually active males and females (n = 7,727) over the age of 15 years in South Africa,
followed by a closer examination of the sexually active female population alone. Though knowledge of the FC among sexually active females over the age of 15 years (n = 4,551) was relatively high at 77.75 %, use was low at 7.16 %. The present study found statistically significant associations between knowledge or use of the FC and several demographic variables for females in South Africa. Having heard of the FC was consistently associated with locality, province, age, education level, marital status, and
employment status. Use of the FC, however, was only associated with province and age group. Many demographic groups exhibited a high prevalence of knowledge but a low level of use; or conversely, a low prevalence of knowledge but a high level of use compared to their counterparts. Our findings support the need for a rigorous campaign to promote the use of FCs by women and also to increase their availability in public health sector facilities such as government clinics and hospitals in order to improve
the chance of women using the FC, a cost-effective device that has the potential to protect both their rights and lives.