Objective: The objective of this study is to get detailed information on the dynamics of condom use with various partner types, including consistency of use, and to estimate the frequency of unprotected intercourse. This study is based on a prospective cohort study of 222 urban workers in urban Zimbabwe.
Results: Most sexual encounters with casual partners are protected, and condom use with these partners is very consistent. However, although the majority of sex acts with regular non-marital partners are protected, only 4 out of 10 men with regular partners used condoms consistently. Because many men have both regular and casual partners, fewer than one in seven males used condoms in all their sex acts.
Conclusions: Regular partners are likely to be a major source of HIV transmission in Zimbabwe, partly because condom use is inconsistent and partly because they account for a large share of all sex acts. Given that over one in four adults in the general population are HIV positive, it is important for future HIV programs to focus on increasing levels of protection with regular partners.