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Note: If you need help accessing information in different file formats, see Instructions for Downloading Viewers and Players. These diseases include the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, and syphilis. You can get them through having sex -- vaginal, anal, or oral.The surest way to avoid these diseases is to not have sex altogether (abstinence). Another way is to limit sex to one partner who also limits his or her sex in the same way (monogamy).
Condoms are not 100% safe, but if used properly, will reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. Protecting yourself against the AIDS virus is of special concern because this disease is fatal and has no cure.Many people infected with HIV in the United States got the disease during sexual intercourse with an infected partner. Experts believe that many of these people could have avoided the disease by using condoms.Condoms are used for both birth control and reducing the risk of disease. That's why some people think that other forms of birth control -- such as the IUD, diaphragm, cervical cap or pill -- will protect them against diseases, too.
If you know your partner is infected, the best rule is to avoid intercourse (including oral sex). If your partner had intercourse with a person infected with HIV (the AIDS virus), he or she could pass it on to you.
That can happen even if the intercourse was a long time ago and even if you partner seems perfectly healthy.With sexually transmitted diseases, you often can't tell whether your partner has been infected.

If you're not sure about yourself or your partner, you should choose to not have sex at all. But if you do have sex, be sure to use a condom that covers the entire penis to reduce your risk of being infected. Consistent and correct use of the male latex condom reduces the risk of sexually transmitted disease (STD) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission.
The most reliable ways to avoid transmission of STDs are to abstain from sexual activity, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. If no condom is used, the germs can pass from the infected partner to the uninfected partner.Back to topHow do I choose the right kind of condoms to prevent disease?Always read the label. Tests have shown that latex and polyurethane condoms (including the female condom) can prevent the passage of the HIV, hepatitis and herpes viruses.
But natural (lambskin) condoms may not do this.The package should say that the condoms are to prevent disease. If the package doesn't say anything about preventing disease, the condoms may not provide the protection you want, even though they may be the most expensive ones you can buy.Novelty condoms will not say anything about either disease prevention or pregnancy prevention on the package. They are intended only for sexual stimulation, not protection.Condoms which do not cover the entire penis are not labeled for disease prevention and should not be used for this purpose. N-9 vaginal contraceptive drug products are used alone to prevent pregnancy, or with barrier methods such as diaphragms or cervical caps.
Some condoms include a spermicidal lubricant containing N-9.Clinical studies have shown that N-9 spermicides do not prevent or reduce the risk of getting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from an infected partner, or against getting other STDs.
However, FDA now requires warning statements and other labeling information for all over the counter (OTC) vaginal contraceptive drug product (also known as spermicides) containing nonoxynol 9 (N9).

The warnings and labeling information also advise consumers that use of vaginal contraceptives and spermicides containing N9 can irritate the vagina and rectum and may increase the risk of getting the AIDS virus (HIV) from an infected partner.Back to topShould I use a lubricant with a condom?Some condoms are already lubricated with dry silicone, jellies, or creams. Lubricants may help prevent condoms from breaking during use and may prevent irritation, which might increase the chance of infection.If you use a separate lubricant, be sure to use one that's water-based and made for this purpose. If you're not sure which to choose, ask your pharmacist.Never use a lubricant that contains oils, fats, or greases such as petroleum-based jelly (like Vaseline brand), baby oil or lotion, hand or body lotions, cooking shortenings, or oily cosmetics like cold cream. The condoms should not be purchased or used after that date.Back to topAre condoms from vending machines any good?It depends. If you want to keep one with you, put it in a loose pocket, wallet, or purse for no more than a few hours at a time.Extreme temperature -- especially heat -- can make latex brittle or gummy (like an old balloon). Make sure you can see what you're doing.What defects should I look for?If the condom material sticks to itself or is gummy, the condom is no good. Also check the condom tip for other damage that is obvious (brittleness, tears, and holes).
Condoms are not 100% safe, but if used properly, will significantly reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.

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