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Health Transit Rev. 1997;7 Suppl:377-91.

Men, women and the trouble with condoms: problems associated with condom use by migrant workers in rural Zambia.

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  • 1Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Hull University, UK.


Understanding cultural attitudes to condoms is of the utmost importance in promoting their use as a means of protection against HIV transmission. This article examines condom use in relation to what people see as the purpose of sex, what good sex entails and how this relates to ideas of being a proper woman or man. It seems that the underlying and pervasive ideal is that sex is essentially a procreative act, since an emphasis on male potency and male and female fertility often overrides anxieties about contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Hence condom use is usually only negotiated within some short-term relationships and then not consistently. Whilst both men and women have negative attitudes to condoms, women because of their economic and ideological dependence on men are in a much weaker position to negotiate condom use.

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