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Condoms Critical for Anal Sex

Condoms Critical for Anal Sex Anal sex puts people at high risk for HIV transmission, especially receptive partners. And condom use is critical. Experts estimate that when receptive anal sex partners don’t use a condom, their risk for HIV transmission is up to 18 times higher than it would be if they had receptive vaginal sex without a condom.

Why is anal sex so risky? The lining of the rectum is quite thin and it doesn’t lubricate like the vagina does. This makes it easier to tear, creating areas for HIV to enter the body.

Unfortunately, women at risk for HIV don’t use condoms consistently when they have anal sex.

A recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine investigated the anal sex habits of over 1,000 women in the United States who were at risk for HIV. The women were followed for a median of 14 years.

About a third of the women said they had had anal sex at least once in their lives. Compared to vaginal sex, frequency of anal sex tended to decline as the women got older.

For most of the women, anal sex wasn’t a regular practice, and condom use was “largely inconsistent,” the authors wrote.

Women who did have frequent anal sex throughout their lives “often reported physical and sexual violence, multiple male partners, and exchange sex,” the researchers said, adding that in violent cases, women may not be able to negotiate condom use.

They recommended public health messaging stress the importance of condoms. Women should also receive support if they are at risk for gender-based violence.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“Anal Sex and HIV Risk”

(Page last reviewed: November 8, 2019)

The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Owen, Branwen Nia, PhD, et al.

“Patterns and Trajectories of Anal Intercourse Practice Over the Life Course Among US Women at Risk of HIV”

(Full-text. Published: September 1, 2020)