Non-consensual condom removal, reported by patients at a sexual health clinic in Melbourne, Australia

Rosie L. Latimer, Lenka A. Vodstrcil, Christopher K. Fairley, Vincent J. Cornelisse, Eric P.F. Chow, Tim R.H. Read, Catriona S. Bradshaw

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Background Non-consensual removal of condoms, colloquially referred to as ‘stealthing’, is the removal of a condom during sex by a sexual partner when consent has been given for sex with a condom only. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional survey to determine how commonly women and men who have sex with men (MSM) attending Melbourne Sexual Health Centre had experienced stealthing, and analysed situational factors associated with the event. Responses were linked to demographic information extracted from patient files. Results 1189 of 2883 women (41.2%), and 1063 of 3439 MSM (30.9%) attending the clinic during the study period completed the survey. Thirty-two percent of women (95% CI: 29%,35%) and 19% of MSM (95% CI: 17%,22%) reported having ever experienced stealthing. Women who had been stealthed were more likely to be a current sex worker (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] 2.87, 95% CI: 2.01,4.11, p <0.001). MSM who had experienced stealthing were more likely to report anxiety or depression (AOR 2.13, 95% CI: 1.25,3.60, p = 0.005). Both female and male participants who had experienced stealthing were three times less likely to consider it to be sexual assault than participants who had not experienced it (OR 0.29, 95% CI: 0.22,0.4 and OR 0.31, 95% CI: 0.21,0.45 respectively). Conclusions A high proportion of women and MSM attending a sexual health service reported having experienced stealthing. While further investigation is needed into the prevalence of stealthing in the general community, clinicians should be aware of this practice and consider integrating this question into their sexual health consultation. Understanding situational factors would assist in the development of preventive strategies, particularly female sex workers and MSM.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0209779
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

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