Condoms versus PrEP?
Last updated: April 2023
I feel like the battle of all battles is being fought in our communities. In one corner, you have the newcomer: a little blue pill that you have to take every day and, in return, it defends your immune system against the virus, HIV.
In the other corner, you have the good ole standby Mister Condom. When you wrap it up, you’re putting a barrier up against HIV and all kinds of STIs. They both work to keep you healthy, happy, and safe while exploring in bed.
So why are they always talked about in opposition?
Condoms and PrEP: a generational divide?
I feel like there is a generational divide between those who grew up in a culture where more public health efforts were focused on condom use. I feel like growing up, it really was the only available option to prevent HIV. Now the PrEP is a viable option of prevention, we should use this moment to think about how these strategies can work together to keep your sex life healthy.
New technologies redefine prevention
"Condoms are a drag," "It doesn’t feel like the real thing," "They break." These are the negative things said about condoms all the time. They are a barrier method that has done a great job at preventing all types of STIs and pregnancy. And, they remain an important tool in our sexual toolkit.
However, as time has passed, new technologies like PrEP make us redefine the role that condoms play in our lives.
Protect yourself against HIV and STIs
In listening to the concerns, we have to consider that sometimes we get carried away in the sexual act and forget to put the condom on. That 'feeling good' influence from alcohol or other substances can be a strong one.
Sometimes erectile dysfunction can put a damper on squeezing into that piece of rubber. Other times at the threat of a partner, they may demand that we not use it. In all of these situations, a pill for PrEP can circumvent a lot of these situations and reduce our risk of contracting HIV.
Do I need PrEP? Do I need condoms?
Instead of seeing PrEP and condoms in opposition, I like to imagine the two as a tag team duo against HIV and STIs. PrEP and condoms in combination make a powerful force of protection and cover all of your bases.
Use these tools together
Where condoms have inherent challenges, PrEP in pill form solves some of them. It allows the individual to plan ahead, and take an actionable step outside of the sometimes chaotic situation of foreplay and sex. Where PrEP has its limitations against STIs, condoms have a proven track record against them.
I think the discussion should really evolve language to see condoms and PrEP as integrated approaches to sexual health. PrEP hasn’t made condoms obsolete just because it is new. By communicating their purposes and how they complement each other, the public will have a better chance of using both to their advantage on their sexual journey.
How do you feel about condom use in the age of PrEP? Share your thoughts below.
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