A Condom Nation of Sorts

STD Protection

Does she or doesn't she? When it comes to women and condoms, the answer is: It depends on who she's with.

Women base the decision to use a condom not on health warnings but on the nature of the relationship they have with a partner, reports Varda Soskilne, of Hebrew University, in Jerusalem. The more familiar a sex partner, the lower the condom usage.

In encounters with regular partners, women believe-mistakenly--that they are less likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD), including AIDS, according to Soskilne, who studied condom use by women attending a family-planning clinic in Pennsylvania. They are less certain about casual partners and thus more readily request condom use with them.

The Israeli researcher believes that current campaigns intended to promote condom use are making little headway against the 12 million cases of STDs occurring in the United States each year. "The emphasis on avoidance of sex probably reinforces the feeling that one or more unprotected sexual encounters with the same man is not risky, even if the relationship is casual."

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