A new and successful strategy for combating the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV was revealed today at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in Boston.
The idea is based upon the decades old premise that practice makes perfect!.
In the study entitled “A novel, self-guided, home-based intervention to improve condom use among young men who have sex with men. The men were given a “ditty bag” full of eight different types of condoms and five different types of lubricants, taught how to apply the condoms correctly, and then assigned homework. The men were expected to try out at least six condoms solo, paying particular attention to their own pleasure and which condoms they liked best.
The purpose of this study was to test of feasibility and efficacy of this intervention and to promote positive condom attitudes and to reduce risk behaviors.
30 volunteer subjects were recruited from a Midwestern University and its surrounding community. A pre-test questionnaire was administered. A post-test questionnaire was given at Day 15 and an additional follow-up questionnaire at Day 45.
It’s such a simple idea, but nobody has every structured an approach like this,” said William L. Yarber, professor in the Indiana University School of Public-Health. “These are pilot studies. But even with small samples, the results are really good. Men become more motivated to use condoms; they use them more correctly and consistently. They also appreciate learning that there are different condoms available.”
A pilot study, published in the Journal of Men’s Health in 2011, focused on heterosexual men. The new study, focuses on young men who have sex with men, or MSM. It will be published in the Journal of American College Health, MSM aged 18 – 29 are diagnosed with HIV more than any other group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. are among MSM between the ages of 13 and 24 years. College-aged MSM are more likely than older MSM and men who only have sex with women to be infected with HIV.
“This is an important group of men to reach,” says Roberta Emetu, who coordinated the research project. “The men who experienced this intervention became better in their condom use. They not only used them more often but used them correctly. We saw an increase in motivation to use them.”
When pre-test and post-test responses were compared, significant post-intervention improvements were found for beliefs and application of condoms, self-efficacy, condom attitude, motivation to use condoms, and consistency of condom use for insertive penile-anal intercourse.
Yarber and his colleagues have documented for more than 10 years how merely wearing a condom is not enough to provide effective protection against STDs and unwanted pregnancies. Condoms need to be used correctly, yet fit-and-feel issues can result in erection difficulty, loss of sensation, removal of condoms before the intercourse episode ends, and other problems that can interfere with their correct use.
These findings suggest that this intervention could be applicable to college-aged MSM, and could be a great resource or model for other public health condom interventions.