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If my partner has HIV and we use a condom, what is the risk of getting HIV?

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Wearing a condom is a effective tool for preventing transmission of HIV. Studies have found that condoms fail when they break, slip or leak during sex. So wearing condoms correctly, with appropriate lubrication and every time you have sex is important in preventing transmission. Condoms (internal or external) comes in different shapes, sizes, flavors, with or without lubrication and non-latex ones too. So choosing the right condom may take some time.

While condoms can be one of the ways to prevent transmission of HIV there are many other methods of prevention that discordant partners can adapt where one of the partner is living with HIV while the other is not. These strategies include the following:

  • Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U): People living with HIV who are adherent to anti HIV medications (anti retroviral therapy or ARTs) and achieve a consistent undetectable viral load, effectively have no risk of transmission of HIV to their partners.
  • PrEP: PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and is a tool for HIV negative people who are at risk of HIV infection to reduce their risk of becoming infected. PrEP involves taking anti-HIV medications (antiretrovirals) on a daily basis. When PrEP is taken consistently and correctly, it works to help prevent HIV from replicating within the body’s immune cells, which helps to prevent a permanent infection.
  • Using condoms (internal or external) with sufficient water-based lubrication, engaging in other forms of sex that carry less risk like kissing, oral sex or manual sex (fingering and hand jobs), and engaging in conversation with your partner(s) about routine STBBI testing.

Here’s a earlier post you may find useful “What’s the best way to prevent HIV?”