Male latex condoms or female condoms, when used the right way every time, are very effective in preventing HIV and many other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Condoms may prevent the spread of other STDs, like Human Papillomavirus (HPV) or genital herpes, but only when the condom covers the infected areas or sores.

HIV and STDs can be spread through sexual activity including anal intercourse, vaginal intercourse and oral sex. You can get HIV or an STD by having sex without a condom with a person who is already infected. HIV and some STDs can be passed from a mother to her baby while she is pregnant, during birth or through breast feeding. HIV and some STDs can also be spread by sharing needles or "works" to shoot drugs or for piercing or tattooing. If you have an STD, it's easier for you to get HIV.

Many people who have HIV don't know it. It can take many years for symptoms to show up. That is why it is so important to use condoms during sex, or to practice mutual monogamy with a partner who knows his/her HIV status.