Type of sex and condom use

The type of sex you have (anal, oral or vaginal) relates to the risk of catching HIV. Whether or not you use a condom or are on PrEP is also important. 

Oral sex is generally a lower risk. Penetrative (anal and vaginal sex) without a condom is generally a higher risk. The risk is highest for the receptive partner in vaginal and anal sex than for an insertive man. all types of sex, even without condoms.

Condoms used correctly protect 100% against HIV transmission and some other STIs. This includes using lube to avoid tears and checking the condom stays in place (see Figures 3 and 4).

When research reports that condoms are only 85-95% effective, this is because people who use condoms do not use them every time.

Figure 4 – How to use a male condom

Figure 5 – Using a female condom

If viral load is undetectable, there is no risk of HIV, even without a condom.

PrEP also protects against HIV, even without a condom.

Last updated: 1 June 2019.