Condoms Have Varying Effectiveness Against Different STDs
June 30, 2005
Studies have documented the effectiveness of latex condoms -- not natural or lambskin ones -- in preventing pregnancy and the spread of HIV. With perfect condom use (a condom used every time, put on before any skin-to-skin contact), chances of contracting HIV are reduced about 80 percent, which translates into a less than 1 percent chance of infection over a year.
Experts say condoms reduce the risk of infection for other STDs, but more research is needed. Since some diseases are spread more readily than others and some can be transmitted through lesions not covered by a condom, condom effectiveness varies by disease.
According to a 2004 bulletin from the World Health Organization and a 2001 report by the US National Institutes of Health, individual studies found condoms reduced the risks for: genital herpes by 30-92 percent in women, less in men (no figure given); gonorrhea by 49-75 percent in men, 39-62 percent in women; chlamydia by 26-90 percent in women, 33 percent in men; pelvic inflammatory disease (resulting from gonorrhea and chlamydia infection) by 55 percent; trichomoniasis by 30 percent in women, with significant reduction in men (no figure given); syphilis by 40-60 percent in both sexes; and genital ulcers (chancroid) by 18-23 percent.
There is no evidence that condoms prevent human papilloma viruses (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer but are usually killed by the immune system. Studies have shown condoms reduced risk of genital warts caused by HPV by 30 percent in women and about 40 percent in men, and they reduce the risk of cervical cancer in women.
Condoms reduce the risk of pregnancy over a year's time to 3 percent with perfect use and 14 percent with typical use, compared to 85 percent with no birth control.
For more information about the National Institutes of Health condom report, please visit: www.niaid.nih.gov/dmid/stds/condomreport.pdf.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.