With incurable diseases such as herpes and HIV, there are a number of issues to worry about when having sex with a new partner. It’s important to keep the conversation open and ask about the last time they got tested and how to go about protecting each other. Condoms can be the key to protecting you against sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, and further research proves why it’s a necessary step to take when having sex.
A recent study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases found that the most important factor in increasing the risk of an HIV-infected person passing on the disease to his or her uninfected partner is the level of HIV in the blood. Additionally, researchers confirmed that using protection can significantly reduce the risk of passing on the disease.
By analyzing a group of 3,297 couples in sub-Saharan Africa in which one person had HIV and the other did not, the researchers were able to determine the risks of the uninfected individual coming into contact with the disease. The participants had to enroll in a randomized trial of acyclovir suppressive therapy and then had to have frequent follow-ups. The study’s authors estimated that the rate of the risk of HIV transmission per number of times one has sex is about 1 every 900 acts. However, condoms can decrease this risk by as much as 78 percent.
“Our results underscore the importance of antiretroviral therapy, and, possibly, treatment of co-infections, to reduce plasma HIV-1 viral load in HIV-1 infected partners, and condom promotion, male circumcision, and treatment of symptomatic sexually-transmitted infections for HIV-1 uninfected partners as potential interventions to reduce HIV-1 transmission,” the authors wrote.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people between the ages of 13 and 64 should have an HIV test at least once during their lifetime in order to determine if they are infected. Those who are at a high risk of developing the disease should be tested on a yearly basis. Use latex or polyisoprene condoms to prevent the transmission of the disease because other condoms made of “natural” products such as lambskin are not as effective.