Friday, March 20, 2009

Why condoms aren't the answer.

From Saint Peter’s Square to Harvard Square:

"We have found no consistent associations between condom use and lower HIV-infection rates, which, 25 years into the pandemic, we should be seeing if this intervention was working.”

So notes Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, in response to papal press comments en route to Africa this week.


“The pope is correct,” Green told National Review Online Wednesday, “or put it a better way, the best evidence we have supports the pope’s comments. He stresses that “condoms have been proven to not be effective at the ‘level of population.’”

“There is,” Green adds, “a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”

This is why throwing contraceptives at people isn't reducing unintended pregnancy.

UPDATE: Thanks to John Jansen for pointing out that people need to stop using the Bullwinkle Approach to STD prevention.


Lilliput said...

I don't understand this?

Condoms are only efficient if they are used every time and the truth is that these people don't have access to any if not enough condoms - so how can this be true.

In addition - which do you think is easier - to get them to use condoms or to get the to abstain from premarital and extra marital sex.

Brazil unlike Africa has been a catholic country for a very long time - has it helped at all. I'm sure Aids rates are growing there.

Amy said...


Do YOU want the job of going to bedrooms and making sure condoms are applied properly or used at all? Just because people have access to them doesn't mean they will use them properly...or at all. And condoms fail. As much as 10% of the time. If you have sex with someone 100 times a year, are you willing to gamble that you won't contract AIDS if up to 10 times out of that 100, it's likely the condom won't work?

In the Philippines, a relatively strong Catholic nation, they adopted an abstinence-emphasis program in the 1990s to help stop the spread of AIDs. Nearby Thailand opted for a condoms-heavy approach.

In 1991, the WHO predicted the Philippines would have 80,000-90,000AIDS cases and that Thailand would have 60,000-80,000.

In 1999, the WHO's projections were wrong:

Philippines had 1,005 AIDS victims. Thailand had 755,000 AIDS victims.

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, volume 328, April 10 2004.

Which do you think is safer? Have 100% guarantee you won't transmit or contract AIDS by abstaining from sex or having a 90% guarantee that you might get lucky and not contract an eventual terminal illness?

No one has died from not having sex. But there are lots of people out there contracting a fatal disease because we encourage sex above safety.

That's stupid.

Lilliput said...

Obviously the phillipines have less aids - they have less sex, no divorce, very few woman's rights and ugly old fat westerners coming to marry their virgin women because European women won't put up with their sh*t - seriously I'd rather have to use a condom then have to live like that!

Amy said...

Okay, aside from the illogical comments in your response, a liberal leaning researcher from Harvard (hardly a bastion of conservativism), agrees with - gasp! - the Pope:

From his comments:

We are seeing HIV decline in eight or nine African countries. In every case, there's been a decrease in the proportion of men and women reporting multiple sexual partners. Ironically, in the first country where we saw this, Uganda, HIV prevalence decline stopped in about 2004, and infection rates appear to be rising again. This appears to be in part because emphasis on interventions that promote monogamy and fidelity has weakened significantly, and earlier behavior changes have eroded. There has been a steady increase in the very behavior that once accounted for rates declining — namely, having multiple and concurrent sex partners. There is a widespread belief that somehow Uganda had fewer condoms. In fact, foreign donors have persuaded Uganda to put even more emphasis on condoms.

So the Pope is right. Condoms aren't the answer.

How many HIV positive partners have or would you sleep with, with a condom for your only protection?

John Jansen said...

It's sad how the Bullwinkle Approach never. Ever. EVER. works.

As Mark Shea is wont to say, "Sin makes you stupid."

GrannyGrump said...

Thanx, John!