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How do condoms prevent HIV transmission?

The primary means of preventing infection from the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the primary focus of public health officials throughout the epidemic have been on the use of barrier contraceptives -- condoms, male or female. In the United States overall, HIV is most commonly acquired from homosexual sex; among women, it is most commonly acquired through heterosexual sex.

And although they provide some protection against HIV infection, condoms are not foolproof -- the only surefire way to prevent HIV is to abstain from having sex with individuals who are infected, even if they may not know they're infected.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.