Condoms and STDs

Condoms and HIV

insomniaHow much protection do condoms provide when it comes to HIV?

Let’s say that Suzy is HIV-negative and her husband, Bob, is HIV-positive.

If Suzy and Bob have sex for one year without using condoms, Suzy has a 7% chance of becoming infected with HIV within one year.

If Suzy and Bob have sex for one year using condoms 100% of the time, Suzy has a 1% chance of becoming infected within a year.

In other words, condoms reduce Suzy’s risk of HIV-infection by 85%.1

Condoms and HPV

A recent study at a university campus found that 37 out of 100 women became infected with HPV within one year while using condoms 100% of the time.2 Currently, this is the best case scenario when it comes to condoms preventing HPV infection.

Prior to this study, the National Institutes of Health concluded that there is “no evidence that condom use reduced the risk of HPV infection,” although some studies suggested that women may have had a lower risk of developing cervical cancer.3

The Medical Institutes for Sexual Health pointed out several recent studies which did not find that condoms offered protection against HPV infection.  “In fact,” they noted, “a similar study by the authors among 603 sexually active women in the same university campus showed no reduction in HPV incidence with consistent condom use, and concluded that non-penetrative sexual contact is a plausible route of transmission in virgins.”4

One reason condoms sometimes provide little or no protection against HPV is that the virus may be active on a person’s skin in areas not covered by a condom, such as the inner thighs and pubic area.  HPV is highly contagious and can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, even when no visible symptoms are present.

Related topics:

Read more about HPV, HIV and other STDs

Footnotes:

  1. The Medical Institute, “Risk & Relative Risk ,” n.d.
  2. The New England Journal of Medicine, “Condom Use and the Risk of Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection in Young Women,” June 22, 2006. Retrieved Jan. 2007 from http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/354/25/2645.
  3. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, July 20, 2001.
  4. The Medical Institute, ” Talking Points on Winer’s Article in ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ on Condom Use and HPV Risk,” n.d.