Condoms on blue and yellow background for STI protection. Condoms on blue and yellow background for STI protection.

The Safe Sex Misconception: When Condoms Aren’t Enough Against HIV

My friend Sam knocks it out of the park at bars. He is a smooth talker – but while he can pick up girls any day – he didn’t know that using protection just isn’t enough.

If you’ve multiple partners like Sam, you need to be careful. This is because while you may think that condoms can block HIV, that isn’t necessarily true. I will not say that it isn’t effective.

Sure, the working of a condom is such that it prevents the flow of infectious fluids during sex, also helping to prevent HIV transmission.

When a condom is used in the proper way it can prevent the flow of semen and pre-cum from reaching a person’s sexual partner during vaginal or anal sex.

Internal condoms made up of latex, polyurethane, and polyisoprene are effective in HIV prevention, as they protect the vagina from the pre-cum and semen from the penis thus preventing STDs and STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

Lambskin condoms on the other hand are not so viable for the same reason because they have large pores through which viruses can pass through.

Not just HIV but the use of latex condoms also reduces the risk of other sexually transmitted infections like HPV- Human papillomavirus and diseases like genital warts and cervical cancer.

They also help in preventing other STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea by preventing the flow of genital fluids.

How does a Dental Dam Work?

Dental dams are barriers that can be used to prevent virus transmission, it is just another version of latex condoms latex condoms but used inside the mouth instead.

It acts as a barrier between a person’s mouth and their sexual partner’s genitals and you can also even make a dental dam at home using condoms and gloves which helps in preventing HIV transmission during oral sex.

Using a Condom During Anal Intercourse

If you’re having unprotected anal sex, then your chance of getting infected is pretty good.

This is because if you’re having intercourse with an HIV-positive partner then their semen as well as pre-seminal fluid both have high HIV concentration and the rectal tissues are very susceptible to it.

About 60-70% of the risk of HIV infections during anal sex can simply be prevented by using condoms, and properly using them as consistent condom users do not face this problem a lot.

Using a Condom During Vaginal Intercourse

It is believed that vaginal sex is the leading cause of HIV transmission around the world.

Although the risk is higher for the person who is being penetrated, the bodily fluids can flow in both directions during sexual contact.

Using condoms correctly can help in preventing HIV transmission, it can also be paired with adequate lubricants like those that are silicone or water-based, for better results.

Condom usage can cut down the risk by a good 80%.

Mistakes People Make while Using a Condom

Although the usage of condoms looks very easy but there are still a few mistakes that happen quite often while using condoms.

“Removing the condom before the entire sexual activity is over somehow fails the purpose of using a condom, and reduces effectiveness.”

Icy Whiz

The condom effectiveness also reduces when you completely unroll a condom before putting it on, ideally, it should be done when you’re putting it on an erect penis.

If you do not leave any space at the tip it will leave no space for the fluid and the latex barrier will not have any reservoir for the semen and it can lead to condom breakage.

Sometimes, due to clumsiness or in a rush people wear the condom inside out and then reverse it and wear it again.

However, they do not realize that while doing this they are exposing their partner to the seminal fluids.

Always check the expiration date of the condom before using it and it is best to wear the condom correctly to prevent condom breakage and reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

Condoms and Antiretroviral Drugs

Drugs that are used to treat HIV infection are called antiretroviral drugs and these drugs act by preventing the virus replication which in turn reduces its impact on the immune system.

According to a research briefing HIV transmission in couples who were not using condoms was done.

In the study, they made sure that one partner was HIV negative and the other had HIV but with an undetectable viral load, and was also consuming antiretroviral drugs.

After two years the partners went under a follow-up and it was found that although the partners had an HIV exposure there was no transmission of HIV.

So, it was concluded that consumption of antiretroviral drugs reduces the viral load to almost undetectable in about 6 months.

When the virus becomes undetectable it also becomes untransmissible.

Internal and External Condoms

Condoms are usually of two types internal and external. External condoms are placed on the penis so they make penile sex more safe.

These should be put on an erected penis before you begin any sexual activity and should be removed only once you are done.

The disposal should be done carefully so that there is no scope for leakage which could lead to exposure to seminal fluids.

Internal condoms are placed inside the vagina before any sexual intercourse and unlike external condoms, they can be inserted earlier, even before sex meaning that it does not require any erection.

Since they are not made up of latex, they are preferred by people who have latex allergies.

If condoms are used in the correct manner and at all times it could significantly reduce the risk of catching any sexually transmitted infections, even HIV transmission.

You can not say a lot about condom effectiveness based on this because they do not offer a hundred percent protective effect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Sexual transmission of such diseases can be completely avoided by abstaining from sexual activity, preventing multiple partners in a sexual relationship, and making sure that the person you are having intercourse with is uninfected.

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by soubhik


Anushree Khandelwal
  1. Providing education on safe practices is an important aspect of public health. Keep up the good work in sharing valuable and reliable information!

  2. Educating people about safe behaviors is an essential element of public health. Keep up the wonderful work of offering useful and trustworthy information! This article teaches me a lot about virus behavior. Being a student of biological sciences this seems very interesting to me.

  3. It turns out that this issue isn’t as obvious as most people assume. By design, a condom is made to prevent viruses from passing through during sexual intercourse. However, it turns out how you use it can make a difference thus compromising its purpose. Thanks for such an informative blog.

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