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The safety of Condoms
Aug 26, 1999

Dear Dr. Remien. My boyfriend is hiv pos. and I am a neg, woman. My question consernes condoms, and how "safe" they really are...If a condom doesn't break is there a chance at all of becoming infected. Is it truly that safe as said or would it be just a matter of time for me to get infected? Thank you, I really appreciate this. Nina

Response from Dr. Remien

No, it is not "just a matter of time for [you] to get infected." Condoms do protect from transmission of HIV if they are used consistently and correctly. However, as you say, it is possible for condoms to break. While this is not a common occurence, it does occur.

If you are a couple that is careful and consistent in your condom use, and you would both be aware of a condom break - you should know about "post-exposure prevention." You can read about it on this forum. (See question titled, "Emergency kit," posted on March 5th). Essentially, it involves taking antiviral therapy after a know high risk exposure to HIV. The medication needs to be taken for several weeks and needs to be initiated very quickly after the exposure (i.e., within 72 hours). You should ask your doctor about this treatment and what you would do if an event like this were to occur and you wanted the treatment.

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