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Effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV transmission


  • Pinkerton, Steven D.
  • Abramson, Paul R.


The consistent use of latex condoms continues to be advocated for primary prevention of HIV infection despite limited quantitative evidence regarding the effectiveness of condoms in blocking the sexual transmission of HIV. Although recent meta-analyses of condom effectiveness suggest that condoms are 60 to 70% effective when used for HIV prophylaxis, these studies do not isolate consistent condom use, and therefore provide only a lower bound on the true effectiveness of correct and consistent condom use. A reexamination of HIV seroconversion studies suggests that condoms are 90 to 95% effective when used consistently, i.e. consistent condom users are 10 to 20 times less likely to become infected when exposed to the virus than are inconsistent or non-users. Similar results are obtained utilizing model-based estimation techniques, which indicate that condoms decrease the per-contact probability of male-to-female transmission of HIV by about 95%. Though imperfect, condoms provide substantial protection against HIV infection. Condom promotion therefore remains an important international priority in the fight against AIDS.

Suggested Citation

  • Pinkerton, Steven D. & Abramson, Paul R., 1997. "Effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV transmission," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(9), pages 1303-1312, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:44:y:1997:i:9:p:1303-1312

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Tietenberg, T H, 1990. "Economic Instruments for Environmental Regulation," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 17-33, Spring.
    5. Halkos, George E., 1993. "Sulphur abatement policy: Implications of cost differentials," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(10), pages 1035-1043, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner, 2006. "Social Change," 2006 Meeting Papers 79, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Stephanie Earnshaw & Katherine Hicks & Anke Richter & Amanda Honeycutt, 2007. "A linear programming model for allocating HIV prevention funds with state agencies: a pilot study," Health Care Management Science, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 239-252, September.
    3. Francis, Andrew M., 2008. "The economics of sexuality: The effect of HIV/AIDS on homosexual behavior in the United States," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 675-689, May.
    4. Judith Lammers & Sweder van Wijnbergen & Daan Willebrands, 2011. "Gender Differences, HIV Risk Perception and Condom Use," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-051/2, Tinbergen Institute.
    5. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner, 2010. "Social Change: The Sexual Revolution," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(4), pages 893-923, November.


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