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Do some condoms kill HIV?

May 17, 2002

Is there a specific type of condom or lubricant foud on certain condoms that actually kills HIV?

Response from Mr. Kull

Laboratory studies have shown that the spermicide nonoxynol-9 does kill HIV. For some time prevention messages have included the use of lubricants with spermicide to prevent the transmission of HIV. However, recent developments in transmission research have changed this recommendation.

The Centers for Disease Control is currently reviewing its recommendations for spermicide use in HIV prevention. The allergic reaction that some people have to N-9 may increase a person's risk for HIV infection when having sex with an HIV infected person. Any kind of irritation of mucosal membranes (the lining of the vagina, rectum, and urethra) can facilitate HIV infection.

Advantage-S is the gel containing nonoxynol-9 that was used in the studies of African sex workers. HIV-negative commercial sex workers who used this gel during sexual intercourse had a 50% higher rate of HIV infection than those who used a placebo gel. While sexual activity and amount of gel used is probably higher than the average population, it seems that N-9 probably offers no considerable benefit in HIV prevention.

Until more information about other spermicides is available, I would suggest that you recommend the following to your population:

1) Always use a condom for vaginal and anal sex.

2) Do not use nonoxynol-9 without condoms as a means of disease prevention.

3) If possible, use unlubricated condoms with a gel/lubricant that does not contain spermicides. Lubricated condoms sometimes contain detergents that cause irritation.

4) Using a condom with N-9 on it is better than not using a condom at all.

5) Your best bet is using a condom and lube for sex. There are no condoms or lube that are known to kill HIV, besided spermicides. More research is being conducted on microbicides so that people have more options in the future.


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