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How effective are Condoms, Diaphragms and Circumcision in preventing HIV transmission?


 87% effective in preventing HIV.

Scientific studies have shown that proper use of the condom can provide anything from 60% to 95% reduction in risk of HIV transmission.

The most often quoted study involved more than 3000 HIV 1 sero-discordant couples. Self reported use of the condom reduced the risk of HIV transmission by 78% per sex act.

The US CDC’s condom report published in the year 2000 estimated that consistent condom use reduced the risk of HIV transmission by 85%.

 Diaphragms and Female Condoms

 No evidence that either one reduces the risk of HIV transmission

 The MIRA study recruited 5000 women to study the use of diaphragms in preventing HIV. Since women who use the diaphragm were also likely to use the male condom, interpretation of the data was not straightforward. However, it is generally accepted that diaphragms do not reduce the risk of HIV infection.

There is very limited research on the effectiveness for female condoms to prevent HIV and STDs in both vaginal as well as anal sex. No conclusions can be drawn from the current data.

There has been a lot of excitement over the development of an anti-viral vaginal gel that has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission. It is also available as a drug infused vaginal ring. This is still under investigation and is not yet commercially available. If it is as effective as it appears, it will make a huge impact on empowering women to protect themselves from HIV.

 Male Circumcision

 60% effective in preventing HIV

There have been 3 randomized trials to study the benefits of male circumcision in preventing HIV transmission. All of them have shown consistent evidence of a 60% reduction in HIV risk that persists for years.

Furthermore, male circumcision has also been shown to reduce the incidence of trichomniasis, bacterial vaginosis and genital ulcers in women. However, it has not been shown to reduce HIV transmission from a circumcised man to a woman.

Circumcision has also not been shown to reduce the risk of any of the other STDs.

Circumcision also has not been shown to reduce the risk of HIV in men who have sex with men (MSM).


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About Dr. Tan
Dr. Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2001. His residency was in the two largest public hospitals in Singapore; Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore General Hospital.

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  1. Sir today i met one call girl using condom, condom is not broken can i take pep plz tell me

  2. Hello docter. I am male and had sex with a sex worker girl for the first time 15 days back. And my condom broke and i ejaculated in her before we noticed about condom broke. I asked her hiv status but she said no hiv to her. But i hav got rashes on my feet now which are itchy and also feeling fatigue and muscle ache and stomach pain. No fever. I am also curcumsized. I am taking PEP after 21 hours of sex.
    Please guide as i m freaking out.

  3. Hi Dr tan thanks for everything you do.I had an exposure with a hiv positive man I had unprotected oral sex without ejaculation I also had protected anal sex without ejaculation he is undetectable plus he didn’t ejaculate in my mouth or at all i stopped him before he ejaculated i took the condom off his penis and filled it with water no leaks plus he didn’t ejaculate what are my chances i stay negative i am freaking out please help i had no sores or cuts in mouth verified by dentist

  4. I think I saw an article somewhere before saying the molecular structure of the condom when compared to the sperm is like throwing a ping pong ball through a basketball net. Which says the condom structure does not really stops anything

    I am not sure if it’s true thou

    • drtan

      Hmm. Where did you read that? Please share the link if you have it. Latex is the only material that is completely poreless. That is why we keep stressing LATEX condoms. Condoms are also considered medical devices and are produced under strict quality control conditions. So the risk of having microscopic holes from poor manufacturing is extremely low. In terms of stopping spermatozoa, condoms are more than 99% effective. In terms of stopping HIV they are about 87% effective. There are probably other factors involved to cause this rather than just the molecular structure of the condom.


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