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HIV & Condoms
Sep 21, 2000

Last evening a friend told me he heard that HIV is smaller than the smallest pores in condoms and that the virus can pass through condom membranes. Have you heard this or is it just another rumor?

Thanks in advance.

Response from Mr. Kull

Your friend may have heard that -- it's a rumor that's been flying around for some time -- but it is not accurate information. In laboratory studies, latex condoms prevent the transmission of HIV and other STD organisms. The pores are smaller than sperm and viruses and bacteria that cause STDs. Condoms are proven to be effective barriers to HIV, herpes, CMV, hepatitis B, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. The pores in lambskin or animal membrane condoms are larger than these viruses and bacteria and will not always prevent transmission of STDs.

Of course, condoms need to be used correctly and every time in order to be effective barriers against STDs. The average condom failure rate in studies is about 12%. The failure rate is most often attributed to incorrect use, inexperience with use, and failure to actually use one every time for sex.

Please refer to Lambskin condoms and Condom Failure for more information on this topic.

RMK



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