|Tuesday, July 24, 2001
A group of doctors Tuesday claimed that
the federal government, specifically the Centers for Disease
Control, has for at least a year suppressed a study about the
effectiveness of condoms and endangered thousands of American
lives in the process.
doctors claim that the government has known about the
limitations of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted
diseases but nevertheless mounted a campaign that deliberately
misrepresented the risks in sex education curricula and public
"The entire public health model developed
by the CDC and based on the idea that condoms offer
protection, is a lie," said Dr. Hall Wallis, a member of
consortium. "The skeleton is now out of the closet."
At a Washington, D.C., news conference, the
10,000-member Physicians Consortium claimed that the CDC has
known for years that while condoms are 85 percent effective in
helping prevent the spread of HIV, they offer less protection
against sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea,
chlamydia, syphilis and genital herpes.
Word of the condomsí shortfalls came in a
panel report released Friday by the National Institutes of
While finding that latex condoms can be
effective in preventing the spread of HIV and in protecting
men from contracting gonorrhea from a female partner, the NIH
panel concluded that there was "insufficient evidence" that
condoms protect against other STDs.
While the report said the lack of evidence
should not be interpreted as proof of the adequacy or
inadequacy of the condom, it nonetheless says there is no
proof that such protection helped to stop the transmission of
human papillomavirus (HPV), which affects an estimated 20
Primarily transmitted by sexual contact,
certain strains of high-risk HPV, or genital warts, can lead
to cervical cancer in women.
The CDC had no comment on the doctorsí
charges, but released a statement saying it welcomes "more
study to better determine the exact effectiveness of condoms"
and says it will continue to advise that abstinence is "the
surest protection" from STDs.
But the doctors consortium said the
government is covering up what it has known for at least a
year and is loath to admit it openly.
"This is not about whether or not people
should use condoms, itís about whether people ought to be told
the whole truth about the efficacy of condoms," said physician
Tom Coburn, a former congressman.
"This has all the earmarks of a good
old-fashioned medical cover-up," said Dr. John R. Diggs Jr., a
consortium member from Massachusetts.
The consortium, in a letter to President
Bush dated July 23, called for the resignation of CDC Director
Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, saying "only fresh and bold leadership at
the CDC" will help fight what they are calling an epidemic of
sexual transmitted diseases.
According to the report released Friday,
about 15 million new STD infections occur every year in the
country. Thus far, approximately 493,000 Americans have died
from AIDS and between 800,000 and 900,000 are living with HIV.
The consortium also called on the Federal
Drug Administration to heighten awareness about the
deficiencies of condoms with new labeling, and asked that the
government and all its contractors and health agencies update
their information and campaigns with accurate statistics.
Those contractors would include Planned
Parenthood, which has long decried "abstinence-only" sex
education and instead encouraged the use of condoms.
Teenagers, the group says, are going to have sex no matter how
much abstinence is encouraged.
"Planned Parenthood encourages responsible
sexual behavior - and we offer the education, information and
medical services Americans need to help them manage their
sexual health," the group said in response to the consortiumís
The group said it will continue to
encourage the use of condoms, and that there needs to be more
research on the true efficacy of condoms.
"Attempts to use the report to advance
so-called abstinence-only education, which has not been shown
to be effective, serves neither public health nor the public
interest," it said.