Do condoms provide 100% protection from HIV?

Condoms are not 100% effective at preventing HIV transmission. When used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective and reliable in reducing the risk of transmitting HIV and most sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Condoms should be used EVERY TIME during sex when transmission of HIV (or other STDs) is possible. When condoms fail to work properly, it is most often because of improper and/or inconsistent use.

Condoms may not work as well against STDs spread through skin-to-skin touching, like herpes and genital warts, because condoms may not cover the infected areas.

Following these basic rules will reduce the already small chance of condom failure: - Experiment with different condoms and practice putting them on before intercourse. - Practice talking with your partner about your desire and intention to use condoms. - Use latex (rubber) or polyurethane (plastic) condoms. Avoid "natural skin" condoms, which have tiny holes, which may allow HIV and other STDs to be transmitted. - When using a male condom choose one that fits. Male condoms come in different sizes, shapes, and styles, but most condoms will fit most men. - Another choice is the Reality condom, which is made of polyurethane and is designed to fit inside the woman`s vagina for vaginal sex, and the anus for anal sex. Use the directions from the manufacturer that come with Reality condoms. - Open and handle condoms carefully. Never use a condom that is in a damaged package or is past its expiration date. Condoms should be stored loosely in a cool, dry place (not in your wallet or the glove compartment of your car) and kept where you can easily get them if you decide to have sex. - To reduce friction that can cause breakage, use plenty of water-based lubricant on the outside of the male latex condom and a small amount on the inside at the tip. With the Reality condom use plenty of lubricant on both the inside and outside. Some condoms come with lubricant, but often there is not enough, so additional lubricant is recommended. Never use oil-based lubricants like Vaseline, hand cream, Crisco, or mineral oil with latex condoms. Oil-based lubricants can rapidly break down latex and allow the virus to pass through. Water-based lubricants include K-Y Jelly, Slippery stuff, ForPlay, Astroglide, ID Lubricants and most contraceptive jellies. These can be found in grocery or drug stores next to the condoms. WARNING: Some lubricants contain nonoxynol 9, which can cause irritation. This irritation may increase the risk of HIV transmission. We do NOT advise the use of nonoxynol 9 or products containing it for STD and HIV prevention!

The male condom should be put on after erection and before any sexual touch. Remember that pre-cum is also infected with HIV. The Reality condom should go in before sex - it can be inserted up to 8 hours before use. Never use the Reality and the male condoms together or two male condoms at the same time. - Some male condoms have a reservoir tip; some don`t. In either case, the tip of the condom should be squeezed while rolling it down onto the penis in order to leave an airless pocket to collect semen. If the penis is natural and has a foreskin, try pulling back the foreskin before unrolling the condom all the way down to the base of the penis. Some men don`t like to pull back the foreskin because they`ve found that the condom slides off when the foreskin is pulled back. If you have trouble with this, consider keeping the foreskin down before putting on the condom or try using a Reality condom with your partner. - After intercourse, withdraw the penis while still erect, holding the base of the condom to prevent it from slipping off or spilling semen. Remove the condom and wash the penis with soap and water. - Use a condom only once and dispose of it in the garbage; do not flush condoms down the toilet. Never reuse a condom. - Use a condom EVERY TIME during sex when transmission or acquisition of HIV is possible.