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Condom Use Still Recommended for HIV Patients on Antiretroviral Therapy


David Rosenthal, DO, PhD, medical director for the Center for Young Adult, Adolescent and Pediatric HIV Care at Northwell Health, explains why condom use is still recommended for HIV patients on antiretroviral therapy.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“I think that we need to continue to use condoms. I think condoms work. I think condoms are effective. I think there [are] always individuals and people [who] have been treating HIV for decades know that people have to be changed on their regimens. The reason that individuals [who] are being treated with HIV have regimen changes is because what we’re seeing is viral resistance.

That viral resistance may last, may occur, one year after medication, may occur after ten years of medication, may occur after 6 months of medication [and] it’s due [to] many different things: viral fitness, adherence with medication, and other factors. We never know when that resistance can develop and so it’s always better to protect yourself with two levels of protection instead of one.

You go back to the old studies, back to when I was in college or whatever, and we’re talking about prevention of pregnancy and you said, ‘well, if you use condoms, you’re fairly safe in reducing pregnancy. If you use birth control, you’re fairly safe in reducing pregnancy, but if you use both condoms and birth control, you’re able to bring your percentage of protection up to 98 or 99% of [not] becoming pregnant.’ So, I think that when we’re talking about ways to prevent HIV transmission, we need to maximize the ways that we can prevent HIV transmission and still make sure we’re doing so in a cost effective manner.”
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