Condoms "contain worms" and "cause HIV" in Tanzania: Negative Condom Beliefs Scale development and implications for HIV prevention

Aaron J. Siegler, Jessie K. Mbwambo, Frances A. McCarty, Ralph J. DiClemente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Condom promotion remains a key component of HIV prevention programs, complimenting recent successes in biomedical HIV prevention. Although condom use has increased in much of East Africa, it remains substantially below optimal levels. Negative rumors about condoms have been documented in East Africa, yet the prevalence and effects of belief in the negative rumors have not been explored. This study evaluated levels of belief in negative rumors about condoms, developed a Negative Condom Beliefs Scale, and assessed its accuracy in predicting willingness to use condoms. A cross-sectional, cluster survey (n = 370) was conducted representing adults in two rural districts in Northern Tanzania in 2008. Item agreement ranged from 35 to 53% for the following rumors regarding condoms: causing cancer, having holes, containing HIV, having worms, and the worms causing HIV. Items loaded on a single latent factor and had high internal consistency and convergent validity. In a multivariate model, negative condom score (AOR = 0.67, 95% CI = 0.6, 0.8) was the strongest single predictor of willingness to use condoms, followed by greater perceived anonymity in acquiring condoms (AOR = 4.36, 95% CI = 2.2, 8.6) and higher condom self-efficacy (AOR = 4.24, 95% CI = 2.0, 8.9). Our findings indicate high levels of subscription to negative beliefs about condoms, with two out of three respondents affirming belief in at least one negative condom rumor. This study highlights the relation between condom rumor beliefs and willingness to use condoms, and indicates avenues for future research and means for improving the design of HIV prevention programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1685-1691
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Africa
  • Behavioral research
  • Condoms
  • HIV
  • Prevention
  • Survey research
  • Tanzania

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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