Russell-Brown P, Piedrahita C, Foldesy R, Steiner M, Townsend J
This paper combines results from a study of the determinants of condom quality and use conducted by The Population Council in two countries in the Caribbean with results from a condom breakage study conducted by Family Health International (FHI) in the United States. The studies, conducted two years apart, compared the breakage rates of condoms from the same lot during human use to their performance in laboratory test results. Breakage rates of 12.9% for Barbados, 10.1% for St. Lucia and 6.7% for the United States compared to passing ASTM laboratory tests suggest that existing laboratory tests as used with the current pass/fail standards are either not sufficiently sensitive or not well-defined to reliably predict condom performance during human use. The study also suggests that user behaviors and practices may be a factor in condom breakage. If the condom is to be an effective method against unplanned pregnancy and STD/HIV infection, and if consumer confidence is to be retained, condom breakage during sexual intercourse must be reduced.