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Human sexuality:

Resolving conflicting
beliefs about condoms

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Overview:

As in so many other topics, there is a division of belief between religious conservatives -- primarily fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians in North America -- and others about the effectiveness of condoms.

As explained in a companion essay:

bullet

Many religious conservatives assert that condoms are ineffective or completely useless for the prevention of STD transmission. These beliefs have worked their way into high school abstinence-only sex education classes.

bullet

Many mainline Christians, liberal Christians, secularists, human sexuality researchers, public health officials, and physicians believe that condoms are quite effective in the prevention of STD transmission and pregnancy. Of course, they only work if they are properly stored, properly used, and worn during every act of intercourse.

Unfortunately, the stakes are extremely high. Misinformation or disinformation can lead to STD transmission which can lead to death in the case of HIV.
bullet

If condoms are effective in the prevention of disease and pregnancy, and are not used, then
bullet

Some people will die needlessly,

bullet

Some people will become permanently infertile,

bullet

Some girls and women will become pregnant. This will result in an increased abortion rate and premature termination of educational careers.

bullet

If condoms are ineffective in the prevention of disease and pregnancy, then massive educational programs are needed to promote abstinence and the delay of sexual activity until marriage, and then only after an STD check.

 

bulletthat condoms are useless, and prevent neither pregnancy nor the transmission of the HIV virus. Fortunately, their claims contain little merit:
bulletCondoms on the shelf or in the back pocket, wallet or purse are totally ineffective. They have to be used correctly and every time that sexual intercourse is experienced. A report in the New England Journal of Medicine reported on a lengthy study of 245 heterosexual couples in which one partner was infected with the HIV virus, and the other was initially HIV free. Half (123) of the couples consistently used condoms; none of the partners were infected. The other half (122) never used condoms or used them inconsistently; 12 partners became infected. 3
bulletSome (usually conservative Christian) sources claim that condoms contain holes of up to 5 microns in diameter. This would allow free transmission of the HIV virus. There is an element of truth in these claims. A small percentage of condoms are made from natural membranes (sheep intestines). These do contain holes and are thus not recommended for protection against HIV. However, the vast majority of condoms are made from latex and are free of holes.

Stories about holes in latex condoms are a hoax. Those who spread such stories are acting irresponsibly. They will convince many people that condoms are not reliable; this will cause some individuals to stop using them. Deaths due to HIV infection will result.

 

References:

  1. "Ask Myrtle," Global Protection Corp., at: http://www.globalprotection.com/ask.html
  2. "Abstinence Programs that Work," http://www.policyreview.org/may97/thhome.html
  3. http://lifeservices.org/stds/stds.html
  4. http://www.youthembassy.com/pastquestions_3.asp?QuestionID=34
  5. http://sexuality.about.com/library/weekly/aa090699.htm
  6. http://sqzm14.ust.hk/cdc-condoms-prevention.HTML
  7. http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu/InSite.jsp?page=kb-07&doc=kb-07-02-02
  8. "Workshop Summary: Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention," National Institute of Allergy and Infenctions Diseases, National Institutes of Health, 2000-JUN-12-13,  http://www.niaid.nih.gov/dmid/stds/condomreport.pdf

Copyright © 2001 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-FEB-21
Latest update: 2009-MAR-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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