Today’s guest post was written a sex educator who specializes in peer-to-peer pregnancy prevention programs. He understands the cultural nuances that influence the decisions young people make and works to help youth realize their potential.
Condom use can be a taboo topic, especially within certain cultures and ethnic communities, including the African American community. When you dissect the African American community into subsets (by age, for example) you see trends in attitudes about condom use. According to the Black Aids Institute, young African American men report a 20.5 percent condom usage rate. It’s alarming to consider that 4 out of 5 young black men are not using condoms during sexual intercourse. Lack of condom use among African-American men can be seen as a direct correlation to higher rates of unplanned pregnancies, HIV, and other STI’s within the African American community.
Research done by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation conducted a qualitative study on condom use behaviors among urban African-American men ages 18-24. That research revealed various reasons for non-condom use:
- Lack of interest in condom use
- Lack of immediate access to condoms
- The mood-killing length of time it takes to put on a condom
- Partner’s disinterest in condom use
The most commonly expressed rationale for not using condoms among the research participants was their general disinterest in using condoms. It is evident that there may be some cultural perceptions among young African-American men that promote the non-use of condoms during sexual intercourse. Education is a critical component to refute many of the misconceptions that this population has in regards to condom use and it may be highly beneficial for Sexual Health Educators to consider the use of peer-to-peer education.
Some of the perceptions of condom use among young African-American men are driven by peer influence. A literature review of peer-to-peer programs done by Advocates for Youth revealed the following results:
- Improved reproductive and sexual health outcomes, including reduced incidence of pregnancy, births and STIs
- Reduced sexual risk behaviors, including delayed initiation of sex, increased contraceptive use and condom use, reduced number of new sexual partners as well as increased abstinence among sexually experienced youth, reduced incidence of unprotected sex, reduced frequency of sex, and increased partner communication
- Increased incidence of testing and sharing test results, including testing for HIV, for STIs, and sharing positive test results with a partner
Lack of condom use among African-American men has far-reaching public health consequences and effective strategies must be implemented to mitigate the cultural behavioral norms that promote non condom use. Peer education appears to be a promising model to educate young African-American men about the benefits of consistent and appropriate condom use.