Are condoms effective in protecting against sexually transmitted diseases, as “safe sex” proponents argue? Focus on the Family President Dr. James Dobson addressed that claim head-on in a recent broadcast, and specifically called to task Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has promoted condom use to the world’s youth.
Powell said in a recent global MTV broadcast: “In my own judgment, a condom is a way to prevent infection, and therefore I not only support their use, I encourage their use among people who are sexually active and need to protect themselves. . . . Forget about taboos, forget about conservative ideas with respect to what you should tell young people about.”
Dobson chastised Powell for taking that position, noting that in doing so, the Secretary ignored a federal government study released just last year that could find little to no conclusive proof that condoms protect against the vast majority of STDs. The report, titled, “Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention,” was issued or endorsed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Agency for International Development — the major health agencies of the U.S. government. Here is a summary of those findings:
(est. number of new cases every year)
(est. number of people currently infected)
|HIV/AIDS>||63,900**||900,000**||85% risk reduction*|
|Gonorrhea||650,000***||359,000***||Women: No clinical proof of effectiveness|
Men: Some risk reduction*
|Chlamydia||3 million***||2 million***||No clinical proof of effectiveness*|
|Trichomoniasis||5 million***||Not Available||No clinical proof of effectiveness*|
|Chancroid||1,000***||Not Available||No clinical proof of effectiveness*|
|Syphilis||70,000***||6,000****||No clinical proof of effectiveness*|
|Genital Herpes||1 million***||45 million***||No clinical proof of effectiveness*|
|Human Papillomavirus (HPV)||5.5 million***||20 million***||No clinical proof of effectiveness*|
On the subject of HIV, Dobson noted that in Africa — a continent being ravaged by HIV and AIDS — Uganda has found great success in publicly promoting abstinence until marriage to its young people. In 1994, Uganda launched “True Love Waits,” an abstinence-until-marriage program that was also supported by schools, religious institutions, non-governmental organizations and local communities.
“We believe that the abstinence campaign in Uganda has had a significant impact on HIV infection, which has declined by 50 percent between 1992 and 2000, and the decline has been most marked in the 15-24 age bracket,” wrote Edith G. Ssempaia, Ugandan ambassador to the United States, in a Feb. 16, 2001, letter.
Information also provided by the Ugandan Embassy in January 2001, noted that the age of first sexual encounter in Uganda has increased from 14 in 1989 to 16 in 2001, “indicating that more young people are adopting abstinence as a preventive measure.”
This information demonstrates that despite the attempts by Secretary of State Colin Powell and other “safe sex” proponents to push condoms as an effective way to prevent STDs, the federal government’s own research cannot produce evidence to show they work against the vast majority of STDs. Moreover, abstinence until marriage has been shown to significantly reduce HIV infection rates on a continent otherwise ravaged by AIDS.
* “Workshop Summary: Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention,” June 12-13,2000, Hyatt Dulles Airport, Herndon, Virginia. This summary report was prepared by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, July 20,2001. (Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention)
** “HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, U.S. HIV and AIDS cases reported through December 2000,” Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control, Vol. 12, No. 2.
*** “Sexually Transmitted Diseases in America: How Many Cases and at What Cost?” Prepared for the Kaiser Family Foundation by: American Social Health Association, December 1998.
**** “Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2000,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September 2001 (actual numbers rounded to nearest hundredth).
24 February 2002
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