Condoms and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS
Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of transmission of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis.
Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis are termed discharge diseases because they are sexually transmitted by genital secretions, such as semen or vaginal fluids. HIV is also transmitted by genital secretions.
Studies have demonstrated that latex condoms provide an essentially impermeable barrier to particles the size of STD pathogens. The physical properties of latex condoms protect against discharge diseases such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis, by providing a barrier to the genital secretions that transmit STD-causing organisms.
Genital ulcer diseases and human papillomavirus (HPV)
Genital ulcer diseases like herpes and HPV infections can occur in both male or female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom, as well as in areas that are not covered. Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of genital herpes, syphilis, and chancroid only when the infected area or site of potential exposure is protected. While the effect of condoms in preventing human papillomavirus infection is unknown, condom use has been associated with a lower rate of cervical cancer, an HPV-associated disease.
Genital ulcer diseases include genital herpes, syphilis, and chancroid. These diseases are transmitted primarily through “skin-to-skin” contact from sores/ulcers or infected skin that looks normal. HPV infections are transmitted through contact with infected genital skin or mucosal surfaces/fluids. Genital ulcer diseases and HPV infection can occur in male or female genital areas that are, or are not, covered (protected by the condom) — HPV needs only skin-to-skin contact for transmission.
Protection against genital ulcer diseases and HPV depends on the site of the sore/ulcer or infection. Latex or vinyl condoms can only protect against transmission when the ulcers or infections are in genital areas that are covered or protected by the condom. Thus, consistent and correct use of latex condoms would be expected to protect against transmission of genital ulcer diseases and HPV in some, but not all, instances.