Data and figures

  • Condom use has played an important role in the fight against the global AIDS pandemic: modeling shows that the highest level of condom use since 1990 prevented about 117 million new HIV infections (1).
  • In 2020, there were 374 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections worldwide among adults aged 15–49; of these, one in four was cured: syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis. Most of these cases could have been avoided by the correct use of condoms.
  • 98% of women whose male partners correctly use male condoms every time they have sex for a year will be protected from unwanted pregnancies; when using female condoms, this percentage will rise to 95%.
  • According to a February 2022 study by WHO, the Special Program for Research, Development and Training in Human Reproduction and their partners, interventions that use positive language about sexual matters, even when it comes to sexual pleasure, increase condom use. .
  • Provide impartial and human-centred information to support condom use.
  • Gender inequality, especially in intimate relationships, is a major barrier to condom use and must be addressed.

general information

Condoms, when used correctly and consistently, are safe and highly effective in preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection, and unwanted pregnancies. Condoms are safe, cheap and widely available.

There are external (male) and internal (female) condoms (also called external and internal condoms, respectively) that are effective when used correctly. Outdoor condoms are the most common; It is a thin sheath or covering that is placed over the erect penis before penetration. There are also internal condoms; They consist of a thin shell or liner that is placed without pressure into the vagina before penetration.

When using condoms, the use of personal lubricants reduces the chance of the condom breaking, slipping, or slipping out of place, increasing protection against unwanted pregnancies and most sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. It is recommended to use a water- or silicone-based lubricant, as other lubricants such as vegetable oil, butter, or hand cream may cause the condom to break.

Lubricants allow sexual relations with a condom to be satisfactory and of high quality, both in the case of vaginal sex and, above all, in anal sex. Unlike the vagina or penis, the anus usually does not provide sufficient natural lubrication during intercourse. During anal intercourse, a large amount of lubricant should always be used. Lubricants may also be helpful for people suffering from vaginal dryness associated with menopause. In general, the use of lubricants is accompanied by a reduction in pain and sexual discomfort, as well as an improvement in women’s sexual satisfaction.


The effectiveness of condoms depends on their correct use. The risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV infection, increases if condoms are not used correctly during intercourse. Very few pregnancies or infections occur due to slippage or breakage. Condoms significantly reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections when used consistently and correctly during intercourse, whether vaginal, oral, or anal. They protect against sexually transmitted infections that are spread through secretions, such as HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. They also protect against skin-borne STIs such as syphilis, genital herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV), provided that the pathogen that causes the infection comes into contact with the area covered by the condom. If used correctly every time they have sex, 98% of women whose male partners use male condoms will be protected from unwanted pregnancies; when using female condoms, this protection is 95% of women.

To be effective, condoms must comply with ISO standards and WHO/UNFPA specifications.

global impact

Condoms remain an important and effective tool in programs to prevent HIV infection, other STIs and unplanned pregnancies. Condom use has become a key means of reducing HIV transmission worldwide. In a modeling study that examined the impact of past and future condom use on the AIDS epidemic in 77 high-burden countries, it was found that the highest level of condom use since 1990 prevented about 117 million new HIV infections, which accounts for about half of them (47%) in sub-Saharan Africa and more than a third (37%) in Asia and the Pacific. (1).

In addition, it is estimated that more than 300 million unwanted pregnancies are avoided each year through the use of contraceptives, including condoms.

WHO response

WHO’s work on condom use is part of its overall mandate to provide technical guidance and assistance to Member States in strengthening programs related to sexual and reproductive health and rights. This includes the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection, as well as contraception and family planning services. Condom use is also included in other WHO programs such as comprehensive sexuality education and gender-based violence programs.

WHO is also one of the five co-sponsors of the Special Human Reproduction Research, Development and Research Program (HRP), the main instrument of the United Nations system for research in human reproduction, which aims to define and conduct research. priorities aimed at improving sexual and reproductive health.

WHO’s work to control and spread STIs, including HIV infection, is guided by the Global Health Sector Strategies to Combat HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections 2022-2030. This includes expanding primary prevention measures, such as those related to the availability and use of condoms. In addition, WHO supports countries in their efforts to create an enabling environment that enables people to talk about STIs, adopt safer sexual practices, access treatment services and facilitate access to quality and safe STI care.

The WHO is also including condom use in its contraception and family planning programs so that everyone has access to the contraceptive method of their choice and can decide if, when and how often they want to have children. This includes developing evidence-based guidelines for the safety and effectiveness of contraceptive methods and their supply, developing quality standards for their production, prequalifying approved contraceptive products, and helping countries to implement these methods.


  1. Stover J, Teng Y. Impact of condom use on the HIV epidemic. Gates Open Res, February 2022, 11;5:91. doi: 10.12688/gatesopenres.13278.2. PMCID: PMC 8933 340.

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