Effectiveness of latex condoms, used consistently and correctly in preventing HIV transmission(*)
(*) Scientific evidence shows that condoms stop the spread of HIV and therefore save lives.
Condoms = Safe Sex, Better Sex
For people who are sexually active, latex condom use is the most effective method of preventing HIV and many other STDs.
Are condoms effective in preventing HIV?
Yes. When used the right way every time, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If condoms are paired with other option like PrEP or ART, they provide even more HIV protection. Latex condoms provide the best protection against HIV. Polyurethane (plastic) or polyisoprene (synthetic rubber) condoms are good options for people with latex allergies, but plastic ones break more often than latex ones.
Do condoms reduce the risk of contracting other STDs?
Condoms are the only preventive method that also provides STD protection. Condoms provide different levels of risk reduction for different STIs because infections are spread differently — some are spread by contact with bodily fluids while others are spread by skin to skin contact. Condoms are most effective in preventing those STIs that are spread by bodily fluids, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Condoms also can reduce the risk of contracting diseases spread by skin-to-skin contact, such as herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV). However, condoms only can protect against these diseases if the sores are in areas covered by the condom.
How much protection do condoms give against pregnancy?
When used as directed (i.e. the condom doesn’t split or burst), they can be very effective in preventing pregnancy. If a condom breaks and no other form of contraception such as the contraceptive pill is used, then there is a risk that a woman may become pregnant, so you should consider using emergency contraception.
How are condoms tested?
Every condom made in the United States is tested for defects and must meet strict quality control guidelines enforced by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For condoms to be sold, 99.6 percent of condoms subjected to quality control tests must pass a “water test” – that is, they must not leak when filled with 800 milliliters of water. Condoms are a highly effective barrier against even the smallest sexually transmitted virus (Hepatitis B).
Do condoms break and slip off frequently?
Studies have shown that condoms are not likely to slip off or break if used properly. The rate of condom breakage or slippage during sex is low – only 0.4 to two percent. Even in these rare situations, condoms would reduce the risk of infection, compared to unprotected sex.
Can using lubricants help?
Yes. Many condoms come already lubricated on the outside, inside, or both but you can always add more as long as the lubricant is either water-based or silicone-based. Oil-based lubricants like baby oil or petroleum jelly can weaken latex so you should not use these. Always check the instructions when choosing a lubricant for use with a condom.
The Naked Truth about Condoms. See if you got condom knowledge.
PSAs: Importance of Condoms
Instructions in How to Use a Condom
Learn more about Condoms
- your-life.com: FAQ about the male condom: (your-life.com/en/your-questions/male-condom/)
- your-life.com: FAQ about the female condom: (your-life.com/en/contraception-methods/short-acting-contraception/female-condom/)
- CDC: Condom fact sheet in brief (cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/brief.html)
- nyc.gov: Do’s and Don’ts for how to use condoms (www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/condoms/condoms-dos-donts.pdf)
- aidschicago.org: Condom effectiveness: the facts about HIV and STD Prevention (aidschicago.org/resources/legacy/condoms/ltoyw_fact.pdf)
- thebody.com: What Are The Best Condoms To Use To Protect Against HIV (thebody.com/h/what-are-the-best-condoms-to-use-to-protect-against-hiv.html)
- self.com: These Are The STDs That Condoms Don’t Protect Against (self.com/story/these-are-the-stds-that-condoms-dont-protect-against)