Lust, trust and latex: why young heterosexual men do not use condoms
This paper examines young heterosexual men's participation in unsafe sex. A qualitative study of young heterosexual Australian men's understandings and practices of safe and unsafe sex, involving in-depth interviews conducted with 17 men aged between 18 and 26, found that five principal themes recur in young men's accounts for the non-use of condoms. First, men stress the risk of pregnancy rather than the risks of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections, and they respond to the former risk by relying on their partners' use of the contraceptive pill. Second, men perceive that wearing condoms decreases penile sensation and that condoms are difficult to use. Third, men find that the 'heat of the moment' of sexual episodes, and their spontaneous and passionate ambience, makes it hard to incorporate condoms. Fourth, men privilege 'trust' as fundamental to their sexual involvements, and quickly define involvements as 'relationships' and therefore as trusting and monogamous, such that they abandon condoms. Fifth, men believe that they are very unlikely to contract HIV because they see their social circles, the 'heterosexual community' or heterosexual sex per se as safe and free of HIV/AIDS. Future education and prevention efforts directed at the heterosexual sexual transmission of HIV should address such configurations of sociosexual meaning and practice in men's lives.