Critical Fact: Not All Condoms Protect Against HIV

Posted on September 1, 2015

Did you know?

There are several types of condoms on the market. Nearly all types offer protection against HIV and other STDs. But some don’t and should be avoided to help stop the spread of HIV and other STDs.

Condoms that Offer Protection from HIV & STDs

Latex Condoms for Men

Latex condoms are made of a particular kind of rubber. Laboratory studies show that intact latex condoms provide a highly effective barrier to sperm and micro-organisms, including HIV and the much smaller hepatitis B virus. Their effectiveness has been proven over many years. Use only water-based lubricants with latex condoms.

Synthetic Condoms

For people who are allergic to latex, several new types of materials are being used to make condoms. One new type is polyurethane, a soft plastic. Another new type is Tactylon TM, a synthetic latex. Lab tests have shown that both these materials provide an effective barrier against sperm, bacteria, and viruses such as HIV.

Polyurethane Condoms for Women

The female condom (Reality TM) fits inside the vagina and covers some of the area outside of the vagina. It also is made of polyurethane. When a male condom cannot be used, couples should consider using a female condom.

There are two important points to consider with polyurethane condoms:
•Unlike latex condoms, synthetic condoms such as male and female polyurethane condoms can be used with either water-based or oil-based lubricants.
•Although not as thoroughly tested as latex condoms, synthetic condoms likely provide similar protection.

Condoms That Offer NO Protection from HIV & STDs

Lambskin condoms

These condoms are made from animal membranes that contain tiny holes. While they can prevent pregnancy, they should not be used for STD or HIV prevention because viruses may be able to pass through these holes.

Novelty Condoms

Novelty (play) condoms are for sexual amusement only. The FDA does not allow them to be labeled as condoms, and they should never be used for STD/HIV or pregnancy prevention.

For more information about proper condom use, visit the About Health website.