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Doctor says condoms don't work
Jul 30, 2003

Dear Ryan,

I need some clarification on condom effectiveness. I have had a few vaginal intercourse episodes with sex workers, all with a latex condom from start to finish and I usually look to verify that my condom is intact when I finish. Then I ran into my friend who is an MD and he told me that he had several patients at an HIV screening clinic they had turned with positive results despite claiming they had protected intercourse. This doctor believes that HIV can pass through the condoms based on his experience.

NOw I am very worried, please give me some peace of mind.

I thought I was being safe with protected sex.

Thanks,

MT

Response from Mr. Kull

I can't comment on the accuracy of your friend's statement, but as far as I know, the majority of studies demonstrate that latex condoms ARE an extremely effective barrier to HIV. Laboratory studies demonstrate that the microscopic pores of latex condoms are smaller than HIV, making it practically impossible for HIV to pass through an intact condom. Studies conducted among people who have protected sex with HIV infected partners consistently show that, when condoms are used correctly and consistently, that HIV is not transmitted to the negative partner.

I'm not sure what explains the transmission that your friend's patients describe. People sometimes aren't comfortable being completely honest about behaviors that lead to transmission; other times it's difficult to know exactly the place, time, and event that lead to transmission. Ultimately, it is important to remember that condoms are very effective.

RMK



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