September 19, 1986

Condoms and the Prevention of AIDS

Author Affiliations

University of Minnesota Medical School and the St Paul Department of Health

JAMA. 1986;256(11):1442. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380110048012

To the Editor.—  We were interested in reading the letter by Conant et al1 regarding their laboratory data that condoms prevent transmission of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-associated virus. It is reassuring that retroviruses cannot pass through latex, synthetic skin, or natural lamb skin. The use of condoms has become a cornerstone for safe sexual activity, being recommended to prevent transmission of the AIDS-associated retrovirus. We feel that other factors regarding condoms are much more likely to result in failure to prevent transmission than the virus actually passing through the prophylactic. These factors have already been well substantiated by the 10% failure rate per year of condoms to prevent pregnancies.2It is not yet clear whether gay men are more motivated to employ condoms to prevent the transmission of AIDS-associated retrovirus than heterosexual couples are likely to use condoms as a means of birth control. The appropriate use of