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      Condoms, Trust and Stealthing: The Meanings Attributed to Unprotected Hetero-Sex

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          Abstract

          University students tend to have greater sexual health knowledge than the general public, yet condom use among this group continues to be a public health concern because effective condom use could reduce sexually transmitted infections and, for heterosexual women, unwanted pregnancies. We report findings from a small, qualitative study of condom use among sexually active heterosexual university students in the UK. In interviews, students shared their views about condom use and sometimes their personal experiences too. This paper identifies some of the meanings attributed to condom use in the accounts of nine heterosexually active 20–25 year-olds. Participants explained that when they felt comfortable communicating with their partners, they were more likely to use condoms, and those with negative sexual experiences or under social or psychological pressure were less likely to use them. The findings highlight issues of trust and power between men and women in heterosexual relationships, and describe contexts for dishonest sexual practice, including the traditional notions of femininity that were linked to condom use by this group. The issue of stealthing arose in one woman’s account of her experience and in several others’ reports of what occurs commonly. Stealthing, the secretive removal of a condom by a (usually male) partner during sexual intercourse without a partner’s knowledge or permission, produces non-consensual unprotected sex. We present stealthing as a product of the sexual double-standards described and as a form of interpersonal violence (IPV) and, among these heterosexual partners, as a form of gender-based violence. This study provides a glimpse into university students’ decision-making regarding condom use and highlights how gendered inequalities shape heterosex, in particular, communication about safer sex, that in some cases, compromise women’s decisions about (safer) sex.

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          Using thematic analysis in psychology

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            Love, sex, and power: Considering women's realities in HIV prevention.

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              Identifying and avoiding bias in research.

              This narrative review provides an overview on the topic of bias as part of a series of articles in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery on evidence-based medicine. Bias can occur in the planning, data collection, analysis, and publication phases of research. Understanding research bias allows readers to critically and independently review the scientific literature and avoid treatments that are suboptimal or potentially harmful. A thorough understanding of bias and how it affects study results is essential for the practice of evidence-based medicine.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Academic Editor
                Role: Academic Editor
                Role: Academic Editor
                Role: Academic Editor
                Journal
                Int J Environ Res Public Health
                Int J Environ Res Public Health
                ijerph
                International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
                MDPI
                1661-7827
                1660-4601
                16 April 2021
                April 2021
                : 18
                : 8
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Clinical Sciences, Brunel University London, London UB8 3PH, UK; naalam@ 123456ucdavis.edu
                [2 ]School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham NG1 5LT, UK
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: pam.alldred@ 123456ntu.ac.uk
                Article
                ijerph-18-04257
                10.3390/ijerph18084257
                8074011
                © 2021 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                Categories
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                Public health

                sexual health, condom use, gender inequality, stealthing, interpersonal violence (ipv)

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