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AIDS Prevention and the Role of Condom Use
With nearly 1 million Americans infected with HIV, AIDS prevention is more important than ever before. Most HIV infection is a result of sexual transmission. That combined with an estimated 15 million cases of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occurring each year effective strategies for preventing these diseases are critical. AIDS prevention is not the only reason for condom use. STD prevention as well as AIDS prevention are important reasons for condom use. Refraining from having unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner is the best way to achieve AIDS prevention and other STD prevention. Latex condoms are highly effective when used consistently and correctly. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers the following recommendation with regard to STD and AIDS prevention:
"Condoms are effective in preventing HIV and other STDs."
Facts About Condom Use and STD, HIV, and AIDS Prevention
• The correct and consistent use of latex condoms during sexual intercourse- vaginal, anal, or oral-can greatly reduce a person’ s risk of acquiring or transmitting most STDs, including HIV infection, gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomonas, human papilloma virus infection (HPV), and hepatitis B.
• Protecting yourself and others against STDs is important because many of these diseases have serious complications. AIDS prevention is important because HIV is life threatening disease that can cause serious illness throughout life.
• Laboratory studies show that latex condoms are effective barriers to HIV and other STDs. In addition, several studies provide compelling evidence that latex condoms are highly effective in AIDS prevention when used for every act of intercourse. This protection is most evident in studies of serodiscordant couples; those couples with one positive and one negative partner.
• Several studies clearly show that condom breakage rates in this country are less than 2%. Most of the breakage and slippage likely is due to incorrect use rather than poor condom quality. Using oil-based lubricants can weaken latex, causing the condom to break. In addition, condoms can be weakened by exposure to heat or sunlight or by age, or they can be torn by teeth or fingernails. Studies also indicate that condoms slip off the penis in about 1-5% of acts of vaginal intercourse and slip down (but not off) about 3-13% of the time.
• Some persons have expressed concern about studies that report higher failure rates among couples using condoms for pregnancy prevention. Analysis of these studies indicates that the large range of efficacy rates is related to incorrect or inconsistent use. In fact, latex condoms are highly effective for pregnancy prevention and AIDS prevention, but only when they are used properly. Research indicates that only 30-60% of men who claim to use condoms for contraception actually use them for every act of intercourse. Further, even people who use condoms every time may not use them correctly from start to finish. Incorrect use contributes to the possibility that the condom could leak at the base or break. AIDS prevention and STD prevention depends on the proper use of condoms each and every time.