MYTH #9

LATEX CONDOMS ARE HIGHLY EFFECTIVE IN PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF AIDS WHEN USED CONSISTENTLY AND CORRECTLY

Don Feder, columnist for the Boston Herald, wrote in his book, "A Jewish Conservative Looks At Pagan America":(p.125) "Condom distribution in public schools has nothing to do with disease prevention and everything to do with normalizing a sexual ethic."

The CDC states in the MMWR of August 6,1993 that "latex condoms are highly effective in preventing the spread of AIDS when used consistently and correctly."

Which statement is correct?

The CDC, sex educators, the liberal media, and the AIDS lobby have undertaken a coordinated program across our nation to convince America's children that condoms are safe to use, and are highly effective in controlling the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In the MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) of August 6, 1993, pp.589-591, the CDC published their definitive article on the prevention of spread of HIV disease. Their article devoted just three lines of the 126-line article to the advantages of abstinence. The remaining 123 lines stressed the reliability of condoms in preventing transmission of the HIV virus, and other sexually transmitted diseases. (64)

Upon careful analysis of the CDC's August 6, 1993 article, it becomes readily apparent that either: (1) The authors of that CDC position paper interpreted the scientific literature used to justify their position differently than the authors who were quoted, or (2) there was an intentional effort to deceive the public as to what the quoted articles actually said about the effectiveness of condoms.

Let us then examine this very important CDC position paper to determine exactly what the CDC says about condom efficiency, then attempt to determine how the CDC arrived at their conclusions. The August 6, 1993 CDC article states, "A recent laboratory study (6) indicated that latex condoms are an effective mechanical barrier to fluid containing HIV-sized particles."

The # (6) in the statement quoted above refers to a study done by Dr. R. F. Carey et al from the Federal Drug Administration in Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Carey's study consisted of taking condoms, filling them with viral-sized particles in a fluid suspension, pressurizing the system, placing the condoms onto a simulated male sex organ, and then inserting the apparatus into a simulated vagina. No motion was incorporated into this study which largely invalidates Dr. Carey's findings, since motion, in all probability, would have dramatically increased the flow of viral-sized particles through the submicroscopic holes present in latex condoms. Even without motion incorporated into the system, however, at least 29 of the 89 condoms which were studied leaked viral-sized particles. Admittedly, condoms decreased the number of viral-sized particles by 10 to the 4th power, but when dealing with one of the deadliest diseases known to mankind, the presence of any infectious viral-sized particles penetrating an intact condom is unacceptable. Thus, the allegation made by the CDC to the effect that "latex condoms are an effective barrier to fluid containing HIV-sized particles" is invalidated by the very FDA study that the CDC quotes. (65)

In that same MMWR article of August 6, 1993, the CDC chose four other scientific papers, selected from the world's literature, which supposedly validate the CDC's contention that, "Latex condoms are highly effective when used consistently and correctly."

The first scientific paper quoted was a study done by Susan C. Weller Phd. from the University of Texas in Galveston. She reviewed all the medical articles published anywhere in the world literature dealing with transmission of HIV disease between discordant couples, i.e. where one sexual partner was HIV infected. Dr. Weller found a 31% a year failure rate among those who regularly used condoms. (It should be noted, however, that not everyone always used condoms, although some did.)

Dr. Weller summarised her findings as follows:

"Although contraceptive research indicates that condoms are 87% effective in preventing pregnancy, results of HIV transmission studies indicate that condoms may reduce risk of HIV infection by approximately 69%."

Obviously those at the CDC who used Dr. Weller's research to justify their position that condoms are "highly effective" had either (1) never read her article or (2) they misinterpreted what she said or (3) they hoped that the public would never check their source of reference. A 31% a year failure rate is hardly "highly effective." (66)

The second paper that the CDC quoted to justify their support of condom usage was written by Willard Cates Jr. who was actually employed by the CDC. Since Willard Cates Jr. was a CDC employee, his study could hardly be considered unbiased, yet Cates reported:

"A European study (by Dr.Isabelle de Vincenzi- see below - ed) of serodiscordant couples showed a powerful protective effect of "systematic" condom use. Another partner study in Kenya showed no association between condom use and seroconversion...further investigations will help clarify the behavioral and biological determinants of effective condom use...the typical contraceptive failure rate is at least 12%."

Thus, careful reading of Willard Cates Jr.'s paper reveals that the CDC's own investigator describes a Kenyan condom study where regular condom use was found to be totally ineffective in preventing spread of HIV disease. Despite that fact, CDC officials persist in telling the public that "condoms are highly effective in preventing the spread of HIV disease." (67)

The third paper quoted by the CDC was authored by Dr. Alberto Saracco of Milan, Italy. Dr.Saracco supervised a multicenter European study of 343 women who were married to HIV-infected men. After discovery of the infectious status of their partners, 305 of the women continued having sexual relations with their husbands. Dr.Saracco found a yearly HIV infection conversion rate of 9.7% among women who never used condoms, a 5.7% conversion rate among women who used condoms intermittently, and a 1.1% yearly infection rate for women who always used condoms. Thus, we find a 10% condom failure rate comparing those who use condoms consistently and correctly (1.1%), and those who do not use them at all (9.7%). Although condoms obviously offer a measure of protection to the uninfected, a 1% a year failure rate is unacceptable when dealing with a disease that is 95-100% fatal. If a commercial airline had a 1% a year fatality rate, how many people would advise their children or family members to fly on that airline? If the brakes on a certain model of automobile were known to fail completely 1% of the time every year, would that car be allowed on the roads of our nation? Of course not. Yet today, in America, the CDC is recommending that our children use a product that they acknowledge has a failure rate of at least 1% a year when having sexual relations with someone who is HIV infected. (68)

The fourth article that the CDC quotes is the only paper that might appear to support the CDC's position: i.e. that "latex condoms are highly effective when used consistently and correctly." The primary author of the fourth paper was Dr.Isabelle de Vincenzi, a French physician who supervised a second European study of discordant couples. When contacted by several independent American investigators, Dr.Isabelle de Vincenzi told both investigators that she could not understand how the CDC could possibly base America's condom policy on her findings. What did she discover? Dr. de Vincenzi and her associates followed 256 discordant couples in Europe where one sexual partner was HIV infected. Of the 256 couples, only 124 of them used condoms consistently and correctly, while the other 121 couples used condoms intermittently or not at all during the 22 months of the study. There were 11 other couples who refused to answer questions as to their condom usage.

Of the group that used condoms consistently and correctly, none became HIV infected. Of those who used condoms intermittently, 4.5% became HIV infected.

To understand the significance of this study, you must understand that Dr. de Vincenzi's study dealt with (1) adults (2) these adults knew that their sexual partners were HIV infected, and (3) each participant was initially given an intensive education on HIV disease, then recounseled every 6 months to remind them of the lethal consequences of contracting HIV disease. What was so surprising to Dr. de Vincenzi was that almost half of the adult participants in her study refused to use condoms routinely, despite the fact that they knew that their partners were infected, and they were counseled at regular intervals to remind them of their danger.

To transpose the results of Dr. de Vincenzi's study of European adults who knew of their partner's infectious status to (1) American adolescents (2) who don't know that their partner is infected (and are certain they are not) (3) who feel invulnerable, and (4) are not being constantly recounseled as to the dangers of HIV infection, is hardly logical. Dr de Vincenzi told a representative of Citizen magazine who spoke with her by telephone in her office near Paris in February of 1994:

"In a lot of studies of high-risk people, you often find that it's quite difficult to have more than half of them using condoms systematically...It is very difficult to extrapolate from a couple's study (in Europe-ed) to single individuals in another country or of another age... the relationship is not at all the same when you are in love and a monogamous couple, or when you meet someone for the first time."

Mr. John Harris, who works for Josh McDowell's ministry, also contacted Dr.Isabelle de Vincenzi by telephone. He was told essentially the same thing. Copies of an interview with John Harris, describing his interview with Dr. de Vincenzi, are available from Radio Liberty. (69)

Dr. de Vincenzi's study certainly demonstrated that condoms can impede the transmission of HIV disease, but should the CDC base America's entire public health effort to control the HIV epidemic on one European study where almost half of the adults studied failed to use condoms, and 4.5% of them became infected?

Furthermore, Dr. de Vincenzi's study failed to evaluate the CD4 count of the HIV-infected partners to determine their level of infectiousness. This fact alone, to some extent, invalidates her findings. Physicians know that if a patient's CD4 count (the T4 lymphocyte count) is over 400, an HIV-infected person has a very low level of viremia, and thus is not highly infectious. In such cases the incidence of HIV transmission is negligible, even with unprotected sex. Dr. Saracco's study evaluated the CD4 count on all his patients; Dr. de Vincenzi's study did not. In addition, the editorial comment from the New England Journal of Medicine concerning Dr. de Vincenzi's paper is revealing for those who are unacquainted with the significance of statistical analyses. The editorial comment stated:

"Even with this large, carefully followed cohort, the sample was not large enough to exclude the possibility of a transmission rate of up to 1.5 per 100 person years."

Thus, statistically, the condom failure rate demonstrated in Dr. de Vincenzi's study could still be in the neighborhood of 1%. (70)

Why should we caution our youth against the use of condoms and insist that only sexual abstinence is acceptable? The message that America's youth gets from condom instruction and condom distribution is that sexual experimentation and sexual activity before marriage are socially acceptable. Educators cannot give mixed messages to adolescents. Teachers cannot say that abstinence is the best course, but condoms are an acceptable, safe alternative. Condoms are not an acceptable, safe alternative in the age of AIDS, and rampant venereal disease. Why?

(1) A condom failure rate of 1% a year with a 95-100% fatal disease is unacceptable. Over a 10-year period, a 1% yearly failure rate corresponds to a 10% fatality rate.
(2) Neither the majority of adolescents nor the majority of adults will use condoms consistently and correctly. This fact is readily apparent from the following studies:
(A) A recently published study evaluated the incidence of HIV disease among homosexuals between the ages of 18 and 29 in San Francisco. Despite extensive, repeated, condom education by public health authorities and Gay organizations in San Francisco, 17.9% of the young men tested were HIV positive. This represents a failed condom policy, and a failed public health policy. (71)
(B) After years of condom education and indoctrination across America, a study recently published in Family Planning Perspectives magazine documented that the older boys become, the less frequently they use condoms. (72)

(3) The rate of condom breakage and slippage is unacceptable in the age of epidemic level STDs and AIDS. The Journal of the NIH (National Institute of Health) reports: "Latex condoms can and do break - according to some estimates, at a rate as high as 8.6 times per 100 - particularly if they are exposed to air or heat, or if they are used with oil-based lubricants or for anal intercourse." (73)

(4) In America today there are 56 million people infected with a sexually transmitted, incurable, viral disease. That figure means that one in every five Americans is infected with an incurable, viral, venereal disease. Since a significant portion of Americans are beyond the age of promiscuity, and a significant proportion of our population is made up of pre-adolescent children, the chances are between 30-50% that any person you have sexual relations with (who has been previously sexually active) will be infected with one or another incurable, viral, venereal disease. (74)

(5) A recent study of co-eds at the University of California in Berkeley found that 46% of those examined had evidence of Human Papilloma Virus genital infections, a precursor to cervical carcinoma. (75)

(6) Every year in America there are 12 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases, two thirds of them in people under 25 years of age, and one quarter of them in teenagers, i.e. 3 million teenagers acquire a venereal disease each and every year. (76)

(7) Several hundred thousand adolescents and young women become sterile every year from the ravages of Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections spreading to their fallopian tubes. One incident of gonorrheal pelvic inflammatory infection (PID) gives a 12-13% chance of a girl becoming infertile for life; one incident of PID from Chlamydia gives a 25% chance of sterility for life. In addition, the incidence of tubal pregnancy has increased 400-500% in America during the past 2 decades because of tubal scarring secondary to venereal disease. (77)

(8) Although some clinical studies quoted by the CDC suggest that condoms can slow the transmission of Chlamydia and Human Papilloma Virus, other well- documented studies demonstrate that condoms are ineffective in preventing spread of these two devastating venereal diseases. In America today, it is estimated that there are 4 million new cases of Chlamydia infection every year, and between 500,000 to 1 million new cases of HPV infections occur yearly. (78) (79) (80)

(9) Condoms have an overall contraceptive failure rate of 15.7%, but in teenage girls 18 years and younger, the failure rate is 18.4%. Thus, teaching adolescents that condoms are an acceptable alternative to abstinence is to condemn successive generations of America's youth to unwanted pregnancies, epidemic levels of STDs, the spread of HIV, and the emotional consequences of early sexual experimentation. Condoms work part of the time. Abstinence works 100% of the time. In schools across America where abstinence-based education has been introduced, the results have been rewarding. Schools must abandon comprehensive sex education and return to moral-based, abstinence- oriented, biologically directed sex instruction. The time has come to return to the type of sex education that was utilised in America for almost 200 years, prior to the introduction of the current failed concepts of "comprehensive education for sex." Parents across America must organize and work to reintroduce moral concepts into our educational system if we hope to save our next generation from disease, disability, and early death.

I believe that Don Feder was absolutely correct when he observed that, "Condom distribution in public schools has nothing to do with disease prevention and everything to do with normalizing a sexual ethic." (81) (82)


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