rope with condoms hanging from it

Re-using condoms: at risk of HIV?

By Steffi Friday, January 5, 2018 - 12:02
How long can HIV survive outside of the body? I had protected sex but re-used the condom the next day. I’m not sure if I turned it inside out the second time. Am I at risk?

Thank you so much for reaching out. This must be a difficult time for you.

I understand that you are concerned about your risk of having been infected when you re-used a condom after you had sex with someone whose HIV status you are unsure about, right?

Condoms can help prevent STDs if used the right way

It's great that you used a condom, well done. Condoms can greatly reduce your risk of getting HIV and other STDs. However, using condoms can be tricky sometimes, and it's good to know some of the basic rules so that you get the maximum protection. 

Even though they are made of a strong material, condoms should always be used just once, and then discarded. If you re-use them, they can become brittle and lose their ability to protect you.

Also, it can be difficult to put a used condom on the penis. It will be much easier to put it on correctly if you use a new one every time you have sex. If the condom doesn't sit tightly on the penis, which might be the case if you are re-using, you might have issues with leakages and spillage.

After you take the condom out of the wrapper, you should test that it unrolls the 'right' and easy way. That, again, will help with a good fit and get the condom to be able to work its protective magic.
Practise a few times, so you are well-prepared the next time you have sex.

HIV risk and testing

It's very difficult to answer your question about your risk.

Whether or not you ejaculated doesn't really matter in this case. It's your sex partner's vaginal fluids that might have put you at risk when you put on the used condom inside out. However, that fact that there were several hours between the two incidents could mean that your risk is lower, because the virus may have indeed not survived.

But many other factors, like her viral load if she was infected, are at play here, so the best thing to do is to get tested six weeks and three months after this happened. You need to wait a while so that, if you are infected, there are enough antibodies in your blood to be detected by the test.

I know that this might be a lot to take in for you right now and that you are scared. Talk to someone you trust about this, and share your fears. Ask them to come with you when you get tested; that will help make it less scary.

We wish you all the best, and please let us know how things are going for you.

For more information on contraception and condoms, check our facts on using condoms. Also, you can read up on HIV here.

Do you have questions about STDs and condoms? Head to our discussion board and ask our moderators anything!

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