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Effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV transmission



The consistent use of latex condoms continues to be advocated for primary prevention of HIV infection despite limited quantitative evidence regarding the effectiveness of condoms in blocking the sexual transmission of HIV. Although recent meta-analyses of condom effectiveness suggest that condoms are 60 to 70% effective when used for HIV prophylaxis, these studies do not isolate consistent condom use, and therefore provide only a lower bound on the true effectiveness of correct and consistent condom use. A reexamination of HIV seroconversion studies suggests that condoms are 90 to 95% effective when used consistently, i.e. consistent condom users are 10 to 20 times less likely to become infected when exposed to the virus than are inconsistent or non-users. Similar results are obtained utilizing model-based estimation techniques, which indicate that condoms decrease the per-contact probability of male-to-female transmission of HIV by about 95%. Though imperfect, condoms provide substantial protection against HIV infection. Condom promotion therefore remains an important international priority in the fight against AIDS.

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