Condom Use for Preventing HIV Infection

Consistent and correct condom use was one of the earliest recommendations for preventing HIV infection at the start of the pandemic outbreak in the early 1980s. It remains an essential tool in preventing the transmission of not only HIV, but also other sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia. Latex condoms offer an impermeable barrier, preventing the bodily fluids that contain active HIV from entering a partner during sex and infecting that person. HIV in bodily fluids must be capable of growing in order to present a risk of infection. In people with HIV who take antiretroviral medications as prescribed and maintain durable viral suppression, residual virus in bodily fluids does not grow or spread infection. Read more about HIV in bodily fluids.

In 2000, NIAID conducted a rigorous review of scientific evidence on latex condoms to determine their efficacy in preventing the spread of HIV. The review included epidemiologic and laboratory studies, both of which conclusively demonstrated that the correct and consistent use of male latex condoms decreased the risk of HIV transmission by approximately 85 percent, providing a high degree of protection against infection.

Condom use is recommended today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a key method of preventing HIV during vaginal and anal sex. For some individuals who meet certain risk criteria, condoms are recommended for use in conjunction with other  HIV prevention tools, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

Content last reviewed on November 29, 2018