Article abstract

Introduction: to assess the prevalence and causes of premarital sex and condom use among trainee healthcare workers in selected healthcare institutions in Enugu State, Nigeria; and to proffer solution to challenges identified.


Methods: we used a mixed study approach with qualitative and quantitative components. Informed consent was obtained from participants and data collected using self-administered structured questionnaires. Epi infoŽ was used for data analysis.


Results: a total of 362 respondents (309 unmarried) from four healthcare training institutions participated in the study. Among unmarried respondents, 141(45.8%) were sexually active. Premarital sex was more common among Pentecostals and sexual activity increased with age (r=0.78; p <0.05). Premarital sexual activity was more common among males and trainee nurses (p <0.005). Although knowledge of condom use was high, actual use was poor (20.1%), with lowest rates among females, Catholics and age-group 30-35 years. Breakages, high failure rates and reduced sexual satisfaction were cited as major factors responsible for poor use. Use of non-specific terms such as "casual sex" and "casual or regular sex partners" hindered consistent, correct condom use.


Conclusion: there is a significant gap between knowledge of and actual use of condoms, despite high premarital sexual activity amongst healthcare workers. Furthermore, non-specific terminologies hinders appropriate condom usage. We propose the term: Committed Spousal Partner (CSP) defined as "a sexual partner who commits to fidelity (one sexual partner per time) and whose current HIV status is known through medical testing and is properly documented" in place of all non-specific terminology.