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Condoms Important in Protecting Against STDs

( - April 8, 2004) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the consistent and correct use of latex condoms is highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Condoms can also reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

"Abstaining from sex is the surest way to avoid contracting an STD. However, there are many for whom abstinence is not a practical solution to preventing STDs," says Theresa Raphael, Executive Director of the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD). "The bottom line is that if you are sexually active, condoms are still the best protection available."

In recent months national attention has focused on condom effectiveness in preventing human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is an extremely prevalent STD which in rare cases can lead to cervical cancer, which is preventable, treatable and curable. Available scientific evidence suggests that the effectiveness of condoms in preventing HPV is unknown. However, condom use has been associated with lower rates of HPV-associated diseases, including cervical cancer.

"Nearly 90% of Americans are sexually active before marriage," says Raphael. "Even in a monogamous, long-term relationship - including marriage - you or your partner may very well have been exposed to an STD at some point in your life and could transmit that disease."

Scaring sexually active individuals away from using condoms will not reduce the prevalence of HPV, but instead will put sexually active individuals at risk for life-threatening STDs. Condoms are highly effective in preventing unintended pregnancy and offer the best protection against a range of sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV.

NCSD urges all sexually active Americans to "love responsibly" and protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.

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