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.
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
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
If condoms are effective in the prevention of disease and
pregnancy, and are not used, then
Some people will die needlessly,
Some people will become permanently infertile,
Some girls and women will become pregnant. This will result in
an increased abortion rate and premature termination of educational careers.
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
that condoms are useless, and prevent neither pregnancy
nor the transmission of the HIV virus. Fortunately, their claims contain
Condoms 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
Some (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
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.
"Workshop Summary: Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for
Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention," National Institute of
Allergy and Infenctions Diseases, National Institutes of Health,