Condoms and breakage

One of my friends has recently started dating an HIV positive man. (Who is on a drug treatment, by the way.)

Without debating any merits of that above statement, he has asked me for advice on ways to have the safest sex possible given the circumstances. I gave him my basic lecture on condoms and their correct use as well as other ways to have creative safe sex, and then this question came:

“Is there any brand or kind of latex condom that is safer to use?”

He’s asking that in terms of breakage during normal use statistics, and I’m afraid I don’t know any.

I understand that when condoms are made random ones are tested by water leakage and air-burst and if a certain percentage of the batch doesn’t hold up then the whole lot is thrown out. I also would think that kinds such as ultra-thin would possibly have a higher risk of breakage.

I realize that this could possibly slip into IMHO territory, but I’m curious if anyone can find some statistics. I’m at a loss.

I’m sure someone will be along with breakage statistics soon, but I do have one thing to shere. If your freind intends to engage in anal sex (a bad idea if you’re HIV positive anyway) he should avoid the lubricant nonoxynol-9 Although it does kill the virus, studies have shown that it can break down rectal tissue and pose a higher risk infection via anal sex.

(Disclaimer: this post was not ment in any way to suggest that AIDS is a gay disease.)

Wait a moment, I appear to be wrong. According to this study:
nonoxynol-9 may pose a higher risk for vagina infection as well.

Good luck to your freind.

According to this site, 2-5% of condoms fail. The article says the majority of those failures is caused by human error but that part may be speculation. This article also describes the water leakage and air burst test pass rates. There is more information on that site about proper condom usage also. Hope this helps.

I am amazed that a gay, sexually active man needs a tutorial from you on safe sex and proper condom usage.

He’s a 15 year old product of abstinence education. What can you do?

Well at least he’s trying to get info before jumping in with both feet.

Man, I don’t know about the rest of you but I’d sure think twice about having sex with an HIV positive person even if I was wearing a Jimmy-hat. Either really horny or really in love, I guess.

… Hmmm, how about reassess the wisdom of instructing a child in the nuances of having sex with an HIV-positive adult who apparently is “into” pedaphilia.

Any more questions?

tsunamisurfer, I believe that the boyfriend is 18. I’m not seeking a morality lecture, nor can I stop someone from having sex. At least he’s being conscious of the risks, unlike many others.

This question came posed via an email list for gay teenagers and I have been doing HIV advocacy work for quite some time within the gay community.

Any more of my motives that you’d like to question while you’re at it?

Recently, when one government agency released data about condoms exploding all over the place, and other government (and non-government) organizations were highly irritated, because many years of education were endangered, I discussed this matter with a good friend of mine. He’s retired, old and grizzled with a wide-open mind, a medical doctor who practiced psychiatry in Manhattan since the 50’s. His specialty is not venereal diseases, but substance abuse, but sometimes, they are not far apart.

He listened to me, and he did burst out: “They are right! They are all right! Condoms break, and even if they don’t break, you are at risk. But you stand much better chances if you wear ‘em. It’s not a matter of whether or not, it’s a numbers game. Like most things in life. All I can recommend is: Work on improving your odds.”

Yes, because we all know that gay males are born with an innate knowledge of proper condom use.

From the Planned Parenthood website:

… and other advice:

IIRC, Consumer Reports did a study in June 1999 on condoms and breakage.
I can’t find the whole article in a quick search, but bits of it are quoted here
and many libraries keep back issues.

“The paraphiliac focus of Pedophilia involves sexual activity with a prepubescent child (generally age 13 years or younger). The individual with pedophilia must be age 16 years of older and at least 5 years older than the child.”

Summary: this ain’t pedophilia.

So here’s a question for you, tsunamisurfer: whence your definition of pedophilia? The APA seems to disagree with you: the information on that page is “From the American Psychiatric Associations’ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Pg. 527-28.”

*Originally posted by iampunha *

First, my dear chap, I would be a bit careful about so closely citing DSM-IV, considering that three editions ago, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder and its own definitions are the subject of great controversy within the mental health community. DSM is not the word of God. It is the product of committees, of people who would probably be a mite more liberal in their interpretation and definition of pedaphilia were that 15-year-old child to be their own.

BTW, can you spell “statutory rape”? It is defined as sexual intercourse with a person under a specified age. This age varies from state to state, but usually ranges from 12 to 18 years.

I have no desire to debate the morality of a man (HIV-positive, no less) having sex with a child. The kid needs counseling, not a condom. The man is a creep, period.

Andygirl: The best condoms I have found for their ability to decrease risk as well as not dimininshing pleasure as much are the polyurethane kind. They are sold under the names Avanti and Durex, and oil based lubricants can be used with them. They are strong, and are supposed to be impermeable to disease.

tsunami: What is your problem. You are disingenuous in your remarks about when the DSM removed homosexuality as a mental illness. Yes, it was in DSM II. That was THIRTY years ago. They don’t put out new volumes that often. Revisions are more common.

Andygirl was asking a question about protection, not about anyone’s opinion about a relationship or age difference. You are being crass, judgemental, and offering a fairly oppressive and reprehensible opinion where it was never requested or desired. Stop being a jerk and realize that your standards are appropriate for you and not the world at large.

This site:

says that the failure rate for condoms is around 12%. That’s not too bad, but it ain’t too great, either. I would have to say that having condom-protected sex with an HIV-positive person is like playing a game of Russian roulette, albeit a game with way better odds than Russian roulette.

It all comes down to how much risk this person is willing to take. If he really, REALLY, wants to have sex with this HIV-positive person, then give him as much info as you can about how to safely store and use condoms, and wish him luck.

This topic is especially interesting to me. My (monogamous) partner and I used condoms as our only form of birth control for about a year and a half. During that time, we had three condoms break that we noticed. I say “that we noticed”, because FetalWhatsit is the result of yet another condom breakage – but one that we did not notice at the time.

Oh, and the link that The Devil’s Grandmother posted is really nice, because it does list several different popular brands of condoms and how well they fared under testing. I’m not sure how well those failure rates map to actual failure rates “in the field”, as it were, but it can’t hurt to check it out.

I’d love to know why you keep on bringing it up, then. I asked a general question about condom breakage, and I fail to see how your morality changes anything about said question.

I’m not going to grill the kid on the particulars of the relationship. Let me make this much clear- this question and a lot of the safe sex and sexuality things that I encounter come via an email list that I work for. There are almost 1000 kids that are on the various lists. I have met at most three dozen.

I have no direct influence over these kids. They come to the lists for a place to be safe, swap stories, and find advice. If someone wants to post and ask for information, I’m thrilled that they’re asking and that they care. In some ways this boy is ahead of a lot of gay teens- he knows the status of his partner. I might ask what the heck you’d expect me to do- ask him nicely to not have sex? Beg? The best thing anyone can do is educate him and the rest of his peers, which is what I am trying to do.

Or perhaps you would like me to not give him any information even though he will have sex with his boyfriend no matter what I say. Brilliance.

I also fail to see how just over two years apart in dating age makes for a creep and a screwed up kid. But then, I fail to see why you’re harping on this.

In short, if you have nothing to contribute to this thread other than hijacks that have nothing to do with what I’m asking, kindly move on with your ever-so-brillant morality. Since you see no reason to debate this, after all.

I would like to thank everybody who dug up those links. TDG, I’ll find that copy of Consumer Reports- it looks invaluable.

Why don’t you try showing the little youngster some of those snuff-style website photos of people with full-blown AIDS? Tell him to take a good look at what he’s in for.

As for the man, creep is too kind a word. Irresponsibility is most likely the reason he got the disease in the first place, so why should anybody be surprised that he’s not giving a damn about anyone but himself? No wonder this disease spreads like a plague.

Moderators? Cleanup in aisle “GQ”…

Briefly mentioned above, but very important. Do NOT use oil based lubricants with latex condoms.

QUESTION: Are there any certain types of condoms that protect against sexually transmitted diseases better than others? (Sometimes you have to spell it out for people.)

ANSWER: Yes, of course. Any condom with nonoxynol-9 is better than a condom without…make sure you get the proper size (for proper fit), too. There are many different types of condoms on the market, I’d suggest that the young man seek the “professional” advice of his doctor. Also, if one insists on having any type of intercourse that should warrant the use of condoms (especially when the long-term outcome could be death), then what the heck, use TWO at the same time.