If used consistently and correctly, condoms are highly effective (up to 96 percent!) in protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.
Condoms and Their Role in HIV and STI Prevention
Condoms serve as a barrier that prevents exchange of bodily fluids that can carry HIV and other STIs during sex, as well as preventing pregnancy. Condoms are available without a prescription and can be obtained at various outlets (such as health centers, drug stores, vending machines or doctor’s offices) at little to no cost. Condoms are fundamental to HIV and STI prevention.
Condoms for All Bodies
External condoms are worn on an erect penis. Internal condoms are worn on the side of the vagina or anus. Most people are aware of external condoms. Internal condoms, previously called female condoms, are an important tool to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for all. Internal condoms are currently the only non-hormonal multipurpose prevention method (MPT) designed for and initiated by women and receptive sexual partners that provides effective protection against unintended pregnancy and STI acquisition, including HIV. Learn more.
Condoms and Access
Access to condoms must be a priority to any public health strategy to control HIV and ultimately end the epidemic. Numerous brands with a variety of features are available for external condoms. A more limited selection of internal condoms exist today, with one as the most commonly available around the world, the FC2. It has been recommended by the WHO since 2006 and approved by the FDA in 2009. The FDA has also approved internal condoms for both vaginal and anal intercourse.
Innovation in Condom Technology
In 2018, the FDA reclassified internal condoms to a regulatory Class II, the same as external condoms, simplifying the approval process for newly developed internal condoms.
Advocacy for Condoms
Condoms represent an essential contribution to the STI prevention toolkit. National HIV and STI prevention strategies and country programming must include sufficient budgets and program support for sustaining a robust supply of condoms wherever they are needed.