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Another is that the HIV-positive partner will be chronically infected and so will not have the very high viral load characteristic of acute HIV infection.Thirdly, in long-term serodiscordant relationships, studies have shown that the HIV-negative partner can acquire a degree of immunity to their partner’s HIV.Studies of condom efficacy have therefore largely contrasted HIV and STI incidence or prevalence in people who claim 100% consistent use against people who use them inconsistently or not at all.Because these studies involve private behaviours that investigators cannot observe directly, it is difficult to determine accurately whether an individual is a condom user and whether condoms are used consistently and correctly.Despite this, the use and promotion of condoms continue to be targets for controversy and criticism, and sexual abstinence and monogamy are often promoted as superior alternatives.While condoms offer useful and vital protection, they have also become associated with promiscuity and infidelity.

However, the same studies show that condoms come off the penis altogether 3 to 5% of the time but may slip down (but not off) up to 13% of the time.Consistently used condoms provide significant protection against HIV, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).The degree of protection they offer against HIV and STIs is significantly better than any other single prevention method, taken in isolation, other than sexual abstinence or complete mutual monogamy between two people who have tested negative for HIV.Moral questions about condom use are not within the remit of this resource, but questions of fact are, and condoms’ ability to stop HIV is periodically questioned by people opposed to their use on religious or moral grounds.Therefore questions of condom efficacy have to be addressed and misapprehensions corrected.

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