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LATEX ALLERGY AND SAFE SEX
Dec 7, 2005

Dear Dr. Bob,this question is mostly for safe sex practices rather than HIV. Recently, had done a RAST test and further allergy screening. My 4 months Elisa is (thanks god ) negative.Hep B, C and syphilis screening also negative. Rast Test (blood and skin )showed an allergy to some food and also RUBBER . I am practicing safe sex, and experience mild but obvious allergy symptoms whenever i use condoms. I am not a fool to stop using condoms but it is really an aesthetic problem to have hive like skin rashes every time i have (safe) sex. I have tried to eliminate other contact with latex ( put an non allergic cover on my cars steering wheel, i am using special soaps and avoid some food). My dermatologist cannot recommend anything more than taking allergy pills for 2-3 days after sexual encounter, but this is no way a life-time strategy. Can you recommend something else? Anywhere else I could look for information for safe sex guidelines for people with latex allergy? Tried to read the archives but nothing found there. Thank you. Ex-worried well, John from Piraeus, Greece

P.S. i hope you had a great time in Myconos!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi John,

The best bet for folks with latex sensitivity is to use polyurethane condoms. In the US, the most popular brand is "Avanti." I'll post a few questions from the archives that address latex allergy.

Yes, I had an excellent time on Mykonos!

Stay well.

Dr. Bob

Non-Latex Condoms vs STD protection Aug 29, 2005

I'm pretty convinced that I have a condom (latex) allergy. It started slowly, becoming worse with each exposure. The last time genital area swelled almost instantly, turned very red and it was very painful to even sit down. I am aware of condoms made from polyurethane and other materials, however, none I have found protect against STD's or HIV. what are my options?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

For those with latex allergy, polyurethane condoms are unquestionably the best option. There have been at least six epidemiologic studies since the FDA approved polyurethane condoms in 1995 that address the question of their safety compared to latex condoms. Three of the six studies found equivalent extremely low rates of breakage and slippage between the two condom types; one study found polyurethane condoms to have a higher breakage but equivalent slippage rate compared to latex condoms; one study found higher breakage and slippage with polyurethane; and one study that addressed only breakage found higher rates with polyurethane condoms. Taken together, these studies show the breakage and slippage rates of polyurethane condoms are not unacceptably high and that using them is considered an effective safer-sex practice for those people unable or unwilling to use latex. I should also point out there are many anecdotal reports of increased tactile sensitivity with polyurethane compared to latex condoms. So that could be considered a bonus!

From an HIV-prevention standpoint, the only condoms considered unsafe are natural-skin (lambskin) condoms.

Dr. Bob

procrit and condoms

Feb 19, 2005

Hey Dr. Bob,

Looks like I may need Procrit to treat my anemia but my practitioner (not an MD) says maybe I should wait because it's coming out in an oral form soon and that way i wouldn't have to mess with the IV stuff. How long should I wait?

Next my new boyfriend says he's allergic to latex condoms --- causes itchy butt rash and he's not too happy with the polyurethane ones?

Any suggestions?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

You should wait for an oral form of Procrit??? That could be a very long wait. What oral form of Procrit??? That's an interesting comment that your "practitioner" made and more than anything clearly illustrates the dude (or dudette) definitely needs more practice before dispensing information. I know of no oral form of Procrit "soon" to be released or even on the very distant horizon. Next, Procrit does not require IV (intravenous) administration. It can be given subcutaneously (just under the skin) with a tiny needle. It is quite easily self-injected just once per week. I'd suggest you discuss this with your HIV specialist the real doctor and do mention the practitioner's advice was, shall we say, less than optimal.

Next, latex allergy is indeed a very real condition. Your new boyfriend can consult with an allergist to confirm whether he has the very significant kind of latex allergy. Some forms are so severe they can be like a bee sting reaction (anaphylaxis). If that is the case, polyurethane condoms are still your best bet at the moment. If, on the other hand, all he has is an "itchy butt rash" when exposed to latex, and he dislikes polyurethane, an option would be for you to wear a latex condom covered with water-based lubricant and then a lambskin condom over the top again covered with more water-based lubricant. In general, I do not recommend "double bagging" (using two condoms), as the friction between two latex layers can cause them to break; however, in this particular instance it's an option that you could carefully try.

Hope that helps.

Good luck!

Dr. Bob



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