Aren’t condoms enough?

Condoms are an effective tool against HIV, but they aren’t perfect. Here are just a few reasons people give for struggling to use them consistently.

  • Not having condoms handy and getting caught up in the moment.
  • Assuming your sex partner shares the same HIV status as you.
  • Doing things when drunk or high that we wouldn’t do under normal circumstances.
  • Having reduced sexual pleasure or difficulty sustaining an erection.
  • Feeling that condoms block emotional intimacy with a partner.
  • Having a partner who refuses to wear condoms.
  • Having a partner who threatens to end the relationship, terminate financial or housing assistance, or even use physical violence if condoms are insisted upon.

In fact, studies consistently show that a high percentage of people (straight, gay, or bi; female, male, or trans) do not use condoms for anal or vaginal sex with a partner whose HIV status they are unsure of.

Some people are going to have challenges with condom use no matter what we do. Wishing that away or blaming them doesn’t help, and only ensures that their risk for becoming infected remains high. PrEP could offer another way for them to protect themselves from HIV.