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Natural Lambskin Condoms on HIV-- for anal sex

Jul 9, 1997

While recently discussing Safer Sex with some friends, a person suggest the use of a natural lambskin condom use by an HIV- to perform anal sex. We know that natural lambskin condoms offer no protection on an HIV+ as the virus can pass through it. We know that unprotected anal sex can still be a risk to the HIV- insertive partner because of the chance of blood in the rectum and small nicks and abrasions on the insertive's penis. This person believed the natural lambskip condom would protect the insertive's penis from these nicks and abrasions and therefore reduce or eliminate the risk of becoming HIV+ (this guy prefers the feel of natural lambskin over latex). It actually sounds logical to me. What do you think? How would this relate to other STDs?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. Natural condoms are NOT adequate protection against HIV, nor other STD's. Both partners are at high risk of infection, even when these condoms are used. The only types of condoms that will protect both partners against HIV and other STD's are either latex condoms, or polyurethane condoms. Natural condoms have holes in them, that are large enough for viruses and bacteria to enter, but small enough to prevent sperm cells from entering. Therefore, these types of condoms should be used for birth control purposes ONLY. Latex and polyurethane condoms do not have holes in them. Therefore, ONLY latex or polyurethane condoms can be used for both prevention against HIV/STD's, and to prevent pregnancy.

The head of the penis is made of mucous membranes. It is therefore more likely to have microscopic cuts and abrasions that you can't see. These small abrasions can be too small to see, but large enough for HIV to enter. A man can have these small cuts/abrasions at almost any time (not just during sex). So these small cuts/abrasions may already be present on the head of his penis, even before he starts to have sex.

For other STD's, the infection does not necessarily have to enter the mans bloodstream in order to infect him. See the question, "HIV vs. STD" for more information on how other STD's are transmitted. Because STD's can pass right through natural condoms, it's almost like wearing no condom at all, in regard to protecting oneself against these infections. On a related topic, see the question, "Inadvertently Exposed !!!" which talks about the risks of unprotected anal sex to the top partner.

Simply put, unless a man is using a latex or a polyurethane condom, he is considered at high risk of infection with HIV and other STD's. Even when using natural condoms, this is still considered high risk for HIV and other STD's. Natural condoms are ONLY good for birth control purposes.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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