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External Condoms

With the advent and growing accessibility of PrEP, you may think that condoms are quickly become obsolete. However, currently in Toronto there are roughly only 1,700 guys utilizing PrEP!

Until PrEP access and uptake improves in our province, condoms remain the most effective tool for curbing STI infections and the cheapest method for stopping the spread of HIV.

In fact, each year ACT gives out over 100,000 condom and lube packs in and around Toronto’s queer Village! This means gay men are continuing to utilize this HIV prevention method, over 35 years since it was adopted, to keep themselves safer during sex!


 

Do External Condoms Work?
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The efficacy of an intervention is how well it works in a scientific trial or when people use it as indicated, i.e. consistently; its effectiveness is how well it actually works to prevent disease or infection in a given population, based on actual levels of use.

Therefore, while a condoms efficacy is 100%, in the real world when condoms are used 100% of the time, though not necessarily 100% perfectly (i.e. with usual rates of breakage and slippage) they provide protection of about 80% against HIV (via frontal hole/vaginal sex) and 70% against HIV (via anal sex). Or, put another way, condoms stop 7 out of 10 new HIV infections acquired through anal sex between men.

It’s further estimated condoms provide protection of about 80% to 85% against Gonorrhea, about 50% to 66% against Syphilis, and 26% to 86% against chlamydia.


 

Why Do External Condoms Sometimes Fail?
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During frontal hole/vaginal intercourse condoms break about 2% of the time. During anal intercourse condoms break 4% of the time.

Condoms "fall off" 3% to 5% of the time.

Condoms slip down (but not off) 13% of the time.

For these reasons it’s important to make sure you are holding the base of the condom when pulling out to make sure it stays in place, removing the condom while still erect, and using condoms that are properly fitted. 

Lots of lube will also decrease chances of breakage, as will changing your condom to a new one every 12-15 minutes.

You also want to make sure your checking the expiration date on your condoms and storing your condoms in a cool place where they won’t risk getting punctured!

 


 

Why Still Use External Condoms If I’m On PrEP?
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While PrEP is 100% effective when taken correctly, it does not prevent STI transmission from occurring. Therefore, condoms are our most effective tool for warding off unwanted infections. Canadian Guidelines on HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis recommend condoms as part of a combination prevention strategy for this reason.

You may also just be getting started on PrEP, returning to it, have missed several doses, or are using PrEP-On-Demand which does not offer 100% protection. In these situations, a partner may want to incorporate condoms into your sexual encounter.

Condoms also provide functions outside the scope of serving as a barrier against STI and HIV. Thick condoms for instance can help reduce sensitivity and help extend your fuck sessions, ribbed condoms can help create a different sensation when fucking, and bottoms who haven’t had a chance to douche may want to use a condom to reduce concerns about mess and cleanup. At ACT we have a range of condoms available for free, including: ribbed, large, snug, latex-free, thin, flavored, glow-in-the-dark, internal and standard external condoms.

Lastly, it can take time getting comfortable going condomless. Especially after over 30 years of safer sex messaging telling you to always use a condom! So if you still want to use condoms while getting used to the idea of being on PrEP, that’s ok too.


 

Obtaining Free External and Internal Condoms During COVID-19
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Finding free condoms during the COVID-19 pandemic can sometimes be a challenge. Toronto Public Health distributes condoms to over 300 community agencies on a yearly basis but some may have their offices closed due to COVID-19 or be operating with severely reduced hours. Contact Public Health at their Condom Distribution Line at 416-338-0901, or via email at cdp@toronto.ca, to ask for the closest location to you currently offering free condoms.

While ACT’s offices (543 Yonge St., 4th Floor) are currently closed, we are offering curb side pick-up of condoms, lube, internal condoms, dental dams, and fisting kits on Thursdays when you e-mail supplies@actoronto.org and set up a time. ACT has also maintained its’ Condom Distribution Network during the pandemic and you can currently visit locations in the Village to obtain free condom and lube packets such :

If you are unable to travel, The PrEP Clinic (401-344 Bloor St. West) is now offering free shipping of condoms (internal and external) and lube to anyone in Ontario. Naloxone kits (nasal spray), which serve to temporarily reverse an opioid overdose, are also available upon request. To place an order please e-mail: info@prepclinic.ca  or call/text them at 416-420-1250.


 

Using An External Condom
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Male Condom Diagram


 

Turning Your External Condom Into A Dental Dam
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Rimming has been identified as a possible route of transmission for COVID-19. As a result, it’s advisable to use a dental dam when licking the ass of a new partner. To obtain free dental dams e-mail supplies@actoronto.org, or make your own using an external condom and scissors as laid out below. 

Dental Dam