How Effective Are Latex Condoms in Preventing HIV?
Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing heterosexual sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Research on the effectiveness of latex condoms in preventing heterosexual transmission is both comprehensive and conclusive. The ability of latex condoms to prevent transmission has been scientifically established in laboratory studies as well as in epidemiologic studies of uninfected persons at very high risk of infection because they were involved in sexual relationships with HIV-infected partners. The most recent meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies of condom effectiveness was published by Weller and Davis in 2004. This analysis refines and updates their previous report published in 1999. The analysis demonstrates that the consistent use of latex condoms provides a high degree of protection against heterosexual transmission of HIV. It should be noted that condom use cannot provide absolute protection against HIV. The surest way to avoid transmission of HIV is to abstain from sexual intercourse or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and you know is uninfected.
- CDC NCHSTP Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. Fact Sheet: Male latex condoms and sexually transmitted diseases.
- Pinkerton SD and Abramson PR. Effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV transmission. Soc Sci Med 1997; 44:1303-1312.
- Davis KR and Weller SC. The effectiveness of condoms in reducing heterosexual transmission of HIV. Fam Plann Perspect 1999;31:272-279.
- Weller S, Davis K. Condom effectiveness in reducing heterosexual HIV transmission (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 2, 2004. Chichester, UK, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
- CDC NCHSTP. Condom Effectiveness Bibliography.
- If you would like more information or have personal concerns, call CDC-INFO 24 Hours/Day at 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636), 1-888-232-6348 (TTY), in English, en Español.
How can injection drug users reduce their risk for HIV infection?
The CDC recommends that people who inject drugs should be regularly counseled to
- stop using and injecting drugs.
- enter and complete substance abuse treatment, including relapse prevention.
For injection drug users who cannot or will not stop injecting drugs, the following steps may be taken to reduce personal and public health risks:
- Never reuse or "share" syringes, water, or drug preparation equipment.
- Only use syringes obtained from a reliable source (such as pharmacies or needle exchange programs).
- Use a new, sterile syringe each time to prepare and inject drugs.
- If possible, use sterile water to prepare drugs; otherwise, use clean water from a reliable source (such as fresh tap water).
- Use a new or disinfected container ("cooker") and a new filter ("cotton") to prepare drugs.
- Clean the injection site with a new alcohol swab prior to injection.
- Safely dispose of syringes after one use.
If new, sterile syringes and other drug preparation and injection equipment are not available, then previously used equipment should be boiled in water or disinfected with bleach before reuse. More information on reducing HIV risks associated with drug infection is contained in the "HIV Prevention Bulletin: Medical Advice For Persons Who Inject Illicit Drugs" (May 9, 1997).
Injection drug users and their sex partners also should take precautions, such as using condoms consistently and correctly, to reduce risks of sexual transmission of HIV. For more information on condoms, see "Male Latex Condoms and Sexually Transmitted Diseases" (PDF).
Persons who continue to inject drugs should periodically be tested for HIV. For information on locating an HIV testing site, visit the National HIV Testing Resources Web site at www.hivtest.org.
If you would like more information or have personal concerns, call CDC-INFO 24 Hours/Day at 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636), 1-888-232-6348 (TTY), in English, en Español.