Condom use at first sex

Export Indicator

The proportion of young people (aged 15-24) who used a condom the first time they ever had sex, of those who have ever had sex.
What it measures

It is generally believed that it is easier to maintain safe behaviours established from the onset of sexual activity than to change risky behaviours once they have become habitual. In addition, data from a number of African sero-surveys suggest that high proportions of young women become infected with HIV during their first few acts of sex. Life skills programmes for young people have therefore concentrated on promoting safe behaviour right from the beginning of young people’s sex lives. This indicator measures progress towards establishing safe behaviour from the outset of people’s sexually active lives. The indicator should be disaggregated by gender. Disaggregation by age and concentration on those aged 15-19 will increase the sensitivity of the indicator to recent changes in condom use at first sex, but sample sizes will need to be large.


Age group: 15 years - 19 years, 20 years - 24 years

Condom type: N/A

Education: N/A

Gender: Male, Female

Geographic location: N/A

HIV status: N/A

Pregnancy status: N/A

Sector: N/A

Service Type: N/A

Target: N/A

Time period: N/A

Type of orphan: N/A

Vulnerability status: N/A

Strengths and weaknesses

One limitation of this measure is that where it is high, it may create a false sense of complacency. HIV and STIs are far from being the only concern for young people. Many adolescents are more concerned about the immediate threat of pregnancy than they are about HIV and STIs. Integrated life skills and reproductive health programmes for young people stress avoiding unwanted pregnancies as much as they stress avoiding STIs, including HIV. High levels of condom use at first sex may in fact reflect growing use of condoms as a use of contraceptives. When sexual activity becomes more regular, young women may adopt longerterm forms of contraception, and abandon condom use. Because of this, it is important to present this indicator in conjunction with other indicators in this guide of condom use among young people.