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The heat is (bah bah bah bah) on...
May 20, 2009

Hey There Doc:

How are ya? quick question. Had protected vaginal sex with a woman I had known for about 10 minutes in a 3rd world Caribbean Country. She provided the condom, which I assume had been in her purse. The next morning, I looked at the condom wrapper and the little box (it was like a 2 pack). It was not a brand I was familiar with, but was indeed latex. However, the box looked real beat up, as if it had been through the washing machine, or in a car or a wallet for a long time. Here is my question. I know we are warned not to use condoms that are kept in such condition. Is the reason for this that the safety of the condom will be compromised in ways which we can not detect (i.e, an unseen erosion of the latex which may allow HIV, etc. to pass through), or does it just make them more likely to physically break, which would obviously be drastic and detectable. My condom appeared to be intact, so do I need to worry that perhaps the condom had been compromised in some undetectable way? I don't think this question has been asked before, and I do understand that if she was HIV+, my odds of contracting it even if the condom did totally fail would only be around 1 in 1500 or something like that. Please let me know. The phrase the condom failed is rather vague.

Thanks.

Mike

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Mike,

Excessive heat (such as being in the glove box of your car, which is parked out in the Caribbean sun all day) can denature latex condoms making it more likely they'll rip and tear. It would not cause invisible increased permeability to HIV. In other words if your condom remained intact, there is no reason to worry despite its beat-up wrapper.

By the way your own condoms are like your American Express card: You should never leave home without them!

Dr. Bob



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