Explaining Inconsistencies Between Data on Condom Use and Condom Sales

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Author(s): Meekers D, Van Rossem R

Year: 2004


<P>This study uses data from six Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) to estimate the total annual number of sex acts and condoms used and compares these totals with reported data on condom sales and distribution. The ability to estimate the number of condoms used from survey data would be a useful tool for program managers, as it would enable estimation of the number of condoms needed for different target groups. <P>Analyses of data on the annual number of condoms sold and distributed reveals very erratic patterns. The fluctuations appear to reflect stock-ups at various levels in the distribution chain. Consequently, available data on the number of condoms sold and distributed yield a very poor indicator of the actual number of condoms sold to consumers and the level of condom use. <P>The results of our survey analyses show that estimates of both the number of sexual acts and number of condoms used varied greatly based on the estimation method used. For several surveys, the highest estimate of the annual number of condoms used is tenfold that of the lowest estimate. While some estimation methods can be disregarded because the results obtained are clearly not plausible, it is impossible to determine which of the remaining methods yield the most accurate results. Until the reliability of these various estimation methods can be established, estimating the annual number of condoms used from survey data will not be feasible.

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