Commentary & Opinion
"Nothing Highly Effective" About Condoms' Ability to Prevent STDs, HIV Among Young People, Opinion Piece Says
October 17, 2003
There is "nothing 'highly effective' about condoms when it comes to protecting young people from STDs," Shepherd Smith, president of the Institute for Youth Development, a Washington, D.C.-based not-for-profit group that advocates risk avoidance for young people, writes in a Knight Ridder/Tallahassee Democrat opinion piece. Smith cites a forthcoming UNAIDS report that says even when condoms are used consistently, the failure rate for protection against HIV is approximately 10% (Smith, Knight Ridder/Tallahassee Democrat, 10/16). A draft of the UNAIDS report, which examined 20 years of scientific literature on condoms and was released in June, said that the failure rate is not due to defective condoms but to human error. Previous reports have estimated that condoms' effectiveness in protecting against HIV is anywhere between 46% and 100% (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/23). According to Smith, the UNAIDS report, a previous NIH report and other research shows that "condoms do not eliminate the risk for any STD and only reduce the risk for two" out of 25 STDs that affect young people. Smith says that school condom distribution programs are not "keeping young people safe from diseases that can change their lives forever," and therefore condoms "shouldn't play the central role ... in the battle against HIV and STDs ... especially for kids." Smith concludes, "The only way to keep young people safe is to tell them the truth about STDs and condoms," and research "shows that the only way young people can be safe from a STD epidemic is to wait. Fortunately, more and more teens are making just that choice" (Knight Ridder/Tallahassee Democrat, 10/16).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.