icon star paper   News Update  
Back grey_arrow_rt.gif
CDC Recommends Condoms, Parents Prefer Abstinence, Gay Men Dislike Condoms
  Source: The HIV Update, February 3, 2004
CDC Recommends Abstinence and Monogamy, Not Condoms, to Prevent HPV
The best ways to protect against infect with the sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer are to abstain from sexual relations or stay in a monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner, a federal health agency says in a report that downplays condom use.
"The surest way to eliminate risk for future genital [human papillomavirus] infections is to refrain from any genital contact with another individual," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in its report to Congress released last week.
If sexually active, the best way to avoid HPV is by having only one uninfected partner, says the report issued by CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding.
All sexually active women should get regular cervical screenings, and women and men not in monogamous relationships should reduce the number of sexual partners and choose partners who haven't had a lot of sexual partners, it says.
The report does not recommend condoms as a "primary prevention strategy" for HPV. "While a few studies on genital HPV and condom use showed a protective effect, most studies ... did not show a protective effect," it says. "The available scientific evidence is not sufficient to recommend condoms as a primary prevention strategy" for HPV.The report says, however, that consistent condom use is useful because evidence suggests that it is likely to reduce other sexual infections.
HPV, which can manifest into genital warts, is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the country, with about 20 million people infected.
HPV can be confusing, though: Many strains of the virus cause no clinical problems and "go away on their own without treatment," the report says. The problem is that a few HPV strains cause cell abnormalities and HPV is associated with almost every case of cervical cancer, which kills more than 4,000 women annually.
The CDC report on HPV was due in December, and Congressman Mark Souder, Indiana Republican, took the agency to task for missing the deadline. Yesterday, Mr. Souder, who is chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on criminal justice, drug policy and human resources, thanked Dr. Gerberding for the "comprehensive, scientific report."
"The obvious next step," he said, "is for the CDC to educate the public by promoting these recommendations for prevention."
Separately, the Bush administration called for doubling abstinence-education funds, from $135 million to more than $270 million. The bulk of the money-- $186 million-- is proposed in a new Community-Based Abstinence Education grant program, run by the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families. The program would replace a regional program run by the department's Health Resources and Services Administration.
[The Washington Times, 2/3/04]
Poll: Parents Favor Abstinence Education
An overwhelming majority of U.S. parents say a "pro-abstinence message" is an acceptable, even preferred way to teach teens about family planning.
In a Zogby International poll of 1,004 parents, 96 percent said "abstinence" was best for America's teens while 91 percent expressed the view that teens should be taught that sexual activity is best when linked to love, intimacy, and commitment.
"For too long teenagers have been fed the lie that reliance on contraception amounts to 'safe sex.' It doesn't," the Family Research Council's Genevieve Wood said. "Comprehensive sex education proponents have tried to paint supporters of abstinence education as moral and religious zealots who just don't want children and teenagers to know about sex," she said. "With three million teens each year contracting a sexually transmitted disease, it's time we take a closer look at what sex education messages are being taught in our nation's classrooms."
The poll was commissioned by Focus on the Family, a non-profit group based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
[United Press International, 1/29/04]
Most Men Would Rather Risk STD Infection than Use Condoms, Study Finds
A new study focusing on poor, black men at an Alabama clinic treating sexually transmitted diseases found that most would rather risk infection than use a condom for "safe sex."
The report highlights the problem health professionals face with reducing the spread of disease among blacks, who are contracting STDs, including HIV, at a rate much faster than whites.
A co-author said Friday the people most at risk for sexual diseases live in a world of poverty, violence, drugs, alcohol and sex that few others see or understand.
"There's something about the social context I don't think we've grabbed hold of yet," said Diane Grimley, a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The study was published in the current issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior. Other studies have produced similar findings elsewhere, Grimley said.
Researchers interviewed 224 males who sought treatment for a sexually transmitted disease at a clinic for low-income patients in downtown Birmingham from 1997 through 1999.
Eighty-seven percent of the men were black, and the rest were white. The number of whites in the study—29-- was so small it was impossible to determine whether their attitudes were statistically different from the 195 blacks, Grimley said.
Despite knowing or suspecting they already had a disease and understanding that not using a condom increased their likelihood of getting another one, 66 percent of the men with a primary partner said they did not plan to use a condom in the future. One-third of the men without a main partner said they wouldn't use condoms. Asked to rate the reasons they wouldn't use a condom, men mostly said they did not want to have to rely on their partner's cooperation and that condoms made sex feel unnatural.Grimley said men in more intimate relationships were the least likely to consider condoms.
"The situation in which men reported the least confidence in using condoms with a main partner was the one in which they wanted their partner to know that they were committed to the relationship," she said.
Rather than using a condom, many of the men preferred to take their chances and seek treatment for whatever disease they catch, the study suggested. That is a reason some clinics see the same patients more than once.
"These men will continue to utilize the system for treatment, but will do so in the absence of modifying their risk behavior and, subsequently, acquire a new infection or reinfection," the report said.
Health officials are struggling to reduce the rate of HIV, which causes AIDS, and other sexual diseases across much of the South.
In Alabama, blacks make up about 60 percent of the AIDS patients over the last two decades despite representing only one-quarter of the population.
Statistics show about 46 percent of Alabama's AIDS patients are black men, and 14 percent are black women. White men account for 34 percent of the cases and white women, 4 percent.
[Associated Press, 1/23/04]
  icon paper stack View Older Articles   Back to Top   www.natap.org