About AIDS

National Condom Week: Don't Forget Your Rubbers!

Ah, Valentine's Day ... and Love is in the air! Which means it's time for National Condom Week, February 14-21.

Unfortunately, even love doesn't protect against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. So for anyone who is sexually active but not in a monogamous relationship with an HIV-free partner, condom use needs to be considered. Condoms are not perfect, but correctly and consistently used, their effectiveness is extremely high - better than 99%, opines the National Institutes of Health.

"Correctly" means a high-quality latex condom. Trojans, Durex,

Lifestyles, Trustex - all are well-known and make the grade. Rubbers require a water-based lube, such as KY or (much better) one of the "personal lubricants" available at the drug store or grocery store, such as Wet or Astro-glide. No oil-based lubes like lotion or Crisco, please - oil destroys latex. Of course, there's the polyurethane condom Avanti, which doesn't limit lube selection, as the plastic is impervious to oil; they are somewhat more expensive but get good user reviews for thinness.

Women may exercise more control with Reality female condoms. It may be put in place hours in advance of use and does away with the need for the guy to wear a love glove.

Making safer choices just needs to be a habit, so as to become "consistent" in protection. This seems tough for Americans, especially young people, but it's the key to staying healthy.

One of the beauties of condom use is that it protects against lots of diseases, not just AIDS. If you are sexually active, give yourself - and your partner - a break. Celebrate Condom Week in your bed (or wherever) this coming week and all year long!

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