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Condoms and HPV

Do Condoms Protect Against HPV?

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Updated September 20, 2007

Most people are aware that proper condom use is effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, but are unclear about the protection condoms provide against the human papillomavirus (HPV).

For many years, it was thought that abstinence was the only means of HPV prevention. While this still remains true, a study done at the University of Washington in 2006, found that condoms do provide some protection against HPV.

Researchers found that women whose partner used a condom each time they had intercourse reduced their of contracting HPV by 70%. Women whose partners used a condom more than half of the time, but not during every instance of intercourse, reduced their risk by 50%.

The study concluded that condoms do provide some protection against HPV, but not 100% protection.

Why Condoms Only Provide Limited Protection Against HPV

HPV is transmitted through sexual, skin-to-skin contact with an infected person; no penetration is needed to contract the virus. When a condom is worn, only the penis is protected. Other areas of the genitalia are left exposed and may come in contact with the vagina during intercourse.

Though condoms do not provide absolute protection against HPV, it is still important to use a condom. It is far better to have some protection against HPV than none at all. Condoms also provide excellent protection against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

Sources:

Winer, Ph.D., Rachel, James P. Hughes, Ph.D., Qinghua Feng, Ph.D., Sandra O'Reilly, B.S., Nancy B. Kiviat, M.D., King K. Holmes, M.D., Ph.D., and Laura A. Koutsky, Ph.D. "Condom Use and the Risk of Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection in Young Women." New England Journal of Medicine 354:2645-265422 Jun 2006. Accessed 10 Sept 2007.

"HPV Vaccine Q and A." National Immunization Program. 07 July 2006. Centers for Disease Control. Accessed 10 Sept 2007.

Centers for Disease and Prevention."Sexually Transmitted Disease Guidelines 2006." Sep 2006. Accessed 10 Sept 2007.

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