Clutch is partnering with b condoms, the world’s only minority-owned, socially responsible condom company to begin publishing a series of articles addressing sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexual health and relationships. We look forward to your comments and engaging with you in this much-needed subject. For more information about b condoms or HIV/AIDS please check out @bcondoms or www.bcondoms.com.

Communication can be difficult, especially when it comes to potentially awkward topics like sex. We often bring up difficult subject manner in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s impromptu, where we decide on the spot to bring something up without warning. Or we bring things up in way in which we’ve practiced the conversation in our head or have at least thought extensively about what we want to discuss prior to speaking with our partners. In many situations, when it comes to discussing condom use, it’s more than just about having a partner who doesn’t want to wear a condom due to a variety of reasons (i.e., condom size, allergies to materials used to make condoms, condom availability during the moment of intimacy). Domestic violence, other and situations where suggesting a condom can often bring about suspicions of infidelity, are also possible reasons why individuals may forgo wearing a condom.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Black community represents only 14% of the United States population, but accounted for 44% of new HIV infections in 2009. Of that, 30% of new HIV infections were among heterosexual Black women, 15 times higher compared to the rate of HIV infections for other racial groups of women. One would think that with these statistics, many Black women would not take any chances of becoming infected with HIV; yet the rising rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) suggest that Black women are still not using condoms consistently.

When it comes to partner communication regarding protection against unintended pregnancy, HIV and other STIs, the narrative typically focuses on one partner (in may cases, the woman), expressing frustration in the other partner’s lack of interest in wearing a condom. However, it’s not just men who are reluctant to wear one. What about instances in which the woman makes the decision not to use a condom, despite having a partner who is willing to use condoms or despite the sobering statistics of HIV infections among Black women?

Some possible reasons women may decide not to use a condom include:

  • · Invincibility- Many people, including women, still believe that contracting HIV cannot happen to them. Though HIV was once known as a “gay white man’s disease”, people are still, regardless of sexual orientation and gender, contracting HIV at high rates.
  • · Knowing the partner- Even if one knows the basic things about a potential partner, if one is familiar with an individual and believes that they are “clean” enough to have sex with, they might forgo using a condom.
  • · Being in a long-term relationship- When you’ve been with someone long-term, and you haven’t used condoms in a while, it can often be difficult to do back to using condoms.
  • · Access to contraceptives, including condoms- In many communities of color, condoms just aren’t readily available, or people my not know where to gain access to condoms. Additionally, many pharmacies, including CVS, have been criticized in recent years due to keeping condom brands locked up, particularly in communities of color as a measure to prevent theft.
  • · Adverse reactions while having sex- For some women, having sex with a condom may be very uncomfortable with a condom, and maybe even painful. Many people are allergic to latex condoms and can become irritated, which can lead to urinary tract infections, bacterial vaginosis, or yeast infections. (If this is the case, try using polyurethane or polysoprene condoms, which are latex-free.)
  • · One type of protection is enough- Many women may place birth control (pills, IUDs, diaphragms, etc.) as a higher priority due to not wanting to become pregnant, compared to using a condom in addition to a birth control method.

Do you always use condoms when you have sex? In what instances have you found it more preferred not to use a condom? Share your experiences in the comments to generate dialogue about this important topic, and any ways to help Clutch readers become more consistent in using condoms.


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