The Latest Skirmish in the Condom Wars


The Physician’s Consortium, representing more than 25,000 doctors, has called for the resignation of Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). They charge that the CDC has known that a U. S. Health and Human Services (HHS) study found no convincing proof that condoms provide protection against many sexually transmitted diseases.

The Department of Health and Human Services release was delayed until Dr.Diggs of the Physician's Consortium filed under the Freedom of Information Act. The study, "Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness," was made public in July 2001. The study examined 138 different studies on condom effectiveness and concluded that these separate studies failed to provide convincing evidence that condoms can protect against STDs. The study did note that condoms when correctly and consistently used could provide 85 percent protection against AIDS and some protection (25%-75%) against gonorrhea in men. It found that other STDs, like chlamydia, syphilis and genital herpes, did not demonstrate documentable protection using condoms. The study found that condoms do not protect against human papilloma virus (HPV), which is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women (5000 deaths per year). An estimated 40 million women are infected with HPV in the United States. Former Congressman Dr. Tom Coburn (R-OK) charged that the CDC is engaging in a medical cover-up because it fears that people are not intelligent enough to make good decisions when they have all the information. He also stated, "For decades, the federal government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to promote an unsubstantiated claim that promiscuity can be safe. We all now know for a fact that is a lie." Dr. John Diggs, spokesman for the Consortium, stated "This has all the earmarks of a good old-fashioned medical cover-up." The National Abstinence Clearing House reports that the CDC actually attempted to alter the results of the study by inserting theoretical condom effectiveness rates into the report and writing that in an independent document. Dr. Diggs further states that the head of the CDC has taken a sledgehammer to one of the cornerstones of medical ethics-informed consent.

What are the facts?

Medical research confirms the following:

  • Correct condom use as promoted by the CDC is almost impossible to achieve. Correct use includes proper storage (avoid heat and sunlight) before and after purchase.
  • Condoms do not cover all of the body. HPV is transmitted "skin to skin" on body parts that are not covered by the condom.
  • Condoms slip off and break. The National Institute of Health acknowledges slippage and breakage rates of 0.8-4.6 per cent. When dealing with life-threatening or lifelong diseases, this is a considerable risk.
  • Condoms leak. In FDA tests, 1 in 400 leak water upon visual inspection. This is within the acceptable range of approval. The visual test can discern no less than 1 microliter of fluid. This amount of seminal fluid could contain 100,000 HIV particles.
  • Condoms are made of latex and have naturally occurring holes. These holes, when viewed by electron microscope, are 50 times larger than the HIV virus.
  • A lifetime mutually monogamous relationship is the best way to prevent all STDs. (Physicians Call NIH condom Report "Misguided and Misleading," National Physicians Center for Family Resources, July 23, 2001

What about risks?

Only one in five women is aware that HPV (human papilloma virus) is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women, according to a national survey conducted by the National Cervical Cancer Public Education Campaign. Dr. Omega Logan Silva, President of the American Medical Women's Association, states, "Cervical cancer can be the good news story in our battle against cancer. In the case of this disease, we now know its cause - HPV. We have improved detection methods available, and with early detection and education, it is preventable." HPV is the cause of greater than 99 percent of cervical cancer cases. (HIV Update, 3/27/01; Digene Corporation, 3/20/2001) Chlamydia, another STD widely seen by physicians, is the leading cause of pelvic inflammatory disease, causing infertility. Many persons with chlamydia remain asymptomatic. One incidence of the disease carries a 25 percent risk of scarring in the reproductive organs, with subsequent infections increasing that risk by 25 percent increments. Physicians are starting to screen sexually active teenage women for chlamydia because it is such a devastating disease. Ten percent of physicians questioned in a recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health agreed and 42 percent disagreed with the statement in the survey, "Chlamydia is too uncommon in my patient population to screen asymtomatic teenage women for it." (SHOPTalk, vol.6 no. 4 SIECUS)

HIV is reported to be diminished 85 percent by using condoms every time. An 85 percent reduction is not good when you realize that HIV resulting in AIDS causes death. The 15 percent not protected by condoms are not just statistics, they are people. The study also only reviewed condom use for penile-vaginal intercourse and did not include anal sex. It also found that those who use condoms inconsistently are as susceptible to infection as those who did not use them at all are. ("NIH Report Collapses Foundation of comprehensive Sex Education" Abstinence Clearinghouse, August, 7, 2001)

The bottom-Line?

"This report means than when condom use is discussed it is no longer medically accurate or legal for the CDC to refer to sex as 'safe' or 'protected'." Physician and former U.S. Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK)

Petition calling for CDC head's resignation: t-resign




The Latest Skirmish in the Condom Wars." Family Concerns.

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