Safer sex campaigns need to promote condoms as offering pleasure as well as protection

November 30, 2006

Promotion of pleasure in use of male and female condoms - alongside safer sex messages- can facilitate consistent use of condoms, state the authors of a Viewpoint in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Public health campaigns to promote condom use usually focus on the adverse consequences of sexual acts. This may, in part, explain their limited effect so far, says Anne Philpott (The Pleasure Project, London, UK) and colleagues in their Viewpoint. They discuss the potential for increasing condom uptake and safer sexual behaviours by promoting the pleasurable aspects of condom use in public-health campaigns.

The pursuit of enjoyment is one of the main reasons that people have sex; however, condoms are generally thought to reduce sexual pleasure. The Global Programme on AIDS identified this perception as the key factor in non-use of condoms across a 14-country study. Condom-promotion campaigns that have been bold enough to include pleasure as a motivating factor - those that link the use of condoms to enhanced sensitivity and sensuality - have noted a rise in uptake of condoms and safer sex. For example, Marie Stopes International has been marketing textured male condoms in Uganda with huge success. Studded condoms are sold as pleasure promoting, and the brand has had large sales, with 12 million sold in Uganda every year.

The authors conclude: "Since pursuit of pleasure is one of the main reasons that people have sex, this factor must be addressed when motivating people to use condoms and participate in safer sexual behaviour. Although enjoyment--and even sex itself--has been noticeably absent from much of the dialogue surrounding STI [sexually-transmitted infections] and the spread of HIV, increasing evidence shows the importance of condom promotion that includes a combination of pleasure-based and safer sex messages."
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EMBARGO: 00:01H (UK time) Friday December 1, 2006. In North America the embargo lifts at 18:30H EST Thursday November 30, 2006

Contact: Anne Philpott, The Pleasure Project, 6 Liddell Gardens, Kensal Rise, London, NW10 3QD, UK. T): +44 (0)7986 585 464 anne@the-pleasure-project.org

Lancet

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