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Besides Condoms have been hyped as master-protectors against sexually transmitted infections. However, health experts are warning that in as much as condoms significantly decrease transmission rates of the most life-threatening viruses such as HIV and hepatitis B and C, it’s not foolproof.
At a meeting of cancer specialists at the University of Nairobi last week, reproductive health expert, Nelly Mugo, said that even as we take protective measures using condoms against most STIs including HIV/Aids, the rubber sheaths cannot provide 100 per cent protection against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). “Condoms offer 60 per cent of HPV thus the virus can spread through skin-to-skin contact with infected areas of the skin not covered by the condom such as the scrotum, anus, or vulva,” Dr Mugo said.
The 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, released last week, shows that male condoms are the most popular method among sexually active unmarried women. Unmarried men too seem to prefer condoms as the popular method to protect against STIs. But for a virus whose disease has no symptoms, the inefficacy of condoms allows for faster and wider spread, especially amongst those with multiple s*x partners.
The only 100 per cent effective way to prevent HPV transmission is abstinence from any s*xual contact, including oral, an*l, and vaginal s*x. See also: Morning after:That ‘oops’ moment when women’s emergency pills backfire Since abstinence may not be a realistic option, Dr Mugo advises remaining monogamous while in a relationship, vaccination and screening for women. Women can also pass viruses without having any symptoms.