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The truth about condom effectiveness

Feb 8, 2002

Dear Ryan,

I had a possible exposure of HIV through one single episode of protected vaginal sex with a prostitute. The condom appeared to be in tact when I finished.

I decided to do some research on what my real risks were, but it appears that there were a lot of information suggesting that some people got infected despite using a condom. What does this mean? Did the condoms break, or fall off? Did the hiv enter through the skin at the base of the condom?

Thanks ahead of time.

Response from Mr. Kull

Latex condoms have been proven to be highly effective in reducing the risk of HIV transmission during intercourse. Laboratory studies demonstrate that HIV cannot pass through the pores of a latex condom. Human studies have shown that people who always use condoms for intercourse greatly reduce their risk for infection. In fact, some studies showed that people who always used condoms with their HIV positive partner never became infected.

It is difficult to say why some people became infected when using a condom. If condoms were not used during oral sex, it is possible that HIV was transmitted through that route. It is also possible that a condom was not used correctly, did not remain intact during sexual intercourse, or was not used at all.

If you use a latex condom throughout intercourse and you use it correctly, it is highly unlikely that you would become infected with HIV. See


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