Background and Objectives:: Anal intercourse has been associated with a high risk of human immunodeficiency virus transmission. Survey data suggest that unprotected anal intercourse is practiced by a substantial proportion of the sexually active population, regardless of sexual orientation.
Goal:: To review the literature related to the use and effectiveness of condoms during anal intercourse, with emphasis on prevention of human immunodeficiency virus transmission.
Study Design:: Literature review.
Results:: Epidemiologic studies have shown that consistent, correct condom use reduces the overall risk of sexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus. Evidence for the effectiveness of condoms used during anal intercourse is less definitive. Survey and clinical trials data indicate that condom breakage and slippage rates vary during anal intercourse and may be considerably higher than during vaginal intercourse. Although condoms designed for anal intercourse have been studied and marketed in Europe, data on their actual performance are scarce. In addition, no information exists on the effectiveness of polyurethane or other nonlatex condoms for use during anal intercourse.
Conclusions:: Development of newer and more effective condoms for use during anal intercourse requires consideration of the ethical issues involved in testing and marketing devices used during an activity that carries with it the potential for a substantial risk to health.