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The degree of protection they offer against HIV and STIs is significantly better than any other single prevention method, taken in isolation, other than sexual abstinence or complete mutual monogamy between two people who have tested negative for HIV.

Despite this, the use and promotion of condoms continue to be targets for controversy and criticism, and sexual abstinence and monogamy are often promoted as superior alternatives.

The main findings of studies we look at in more detail below are as follows: These degrees of protection may be lower than some readers expect, and rates of 98% reliability are still sometimes quoted for condoms.Therefore questions of condom efficacy have to be addressed and misapprehensions corrected.In one of the most highly publicised statements, in October 2003, the President of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, said: "The AIDS virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon.Twenty years later, 51 to 66% of women taking part in a microbicide study reported 100% condom usage at different time points during the trial, but the researchers calculated from inconsistency in their answers that the actual proportion who maintained 100% condom use was 25%.Women were much less likely to report inconsistent use of condoms than never using them: over the course of the study, 46% of women said they used condoms ‘always’, 48% ’never’ and only 6% ’sometimes’.

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