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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Emory: Condom Performance for MSM Exceeds Expectations, Researchers Say

Researchers from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health have found that condom use for men who have sex with men (MSM) does not have a high failure rate, as previously thought. Instead, condoms failed at very low levels for MSM in the trial, less than 1 percent of the time. The results were recently published in EClinicalMedicine, a Lancet publication.

MSM account for nearly two out of every three new human immunodeficiency virus HIV diagnoses in the United States. Condoms are one of the least expensive and most accessible prevention tools, and are the only prevention option that protects users from sexually transmitted diseases (STD), which are at a record high. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently approve condoms specifically for anal sex, likely because of perceived high failure rates. Previous studies found 6-7 percent condom failure for anal sex.

However, researchers led by Dr. Aaron Siegler, from Rollins conducted the largest condom use efficacy trial among MSM and men who have sex with women to date, and found that condoms were over 99 percent effective for anal sex.

“Condoms should be approved by regulatory agencies for anal sex and clinicians may recommend condoms as a highly efficacious HIV and STD prevention tool,” Dr. Siegler and colleagues note in the article. The FDA has indicated more than 300 different brands and types of male condoms for vaginal sex in the past 40 years, but has indicated none for anal sex.

Because of the study, researchers are calling for FDA to approve condoms for anal sex. A previous study by the authors found that MSM would be more willing to use a condom that was FDA approved for anal sex. The change in FDA policy could therefore potentially contribute to curbing the HIV outbreak in MSM populations.

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