Special NIH Review Confirms Condoms Effective Against Transmission of HIV, Gonorrhea – Brief Article
A special review panel led by the National Institutes of Health has concluded after examining existing research that male latex condoms can effectively reduce transmission of HIV and gonorrhea. However, the panel’s report also said that there isn’t enough information from well-designed studies to determine how effective condoms are in preventing most other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The report confirms that correct and consistent use of condoms can reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Epidemiological studies also indicate that condoms can prevent men from acquiring gonorrhea from a female partner, the report says. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. The report, released on July 20, concluded that, because of limitations in. study designs, epidemiological evidence currently is insufficient to “draw definite conclusions” about the effectiveness of condoms in preventing spread of chlamydial infection, syphilis, chancroid, trichomoniasis, genital herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
The panel said that “the absence of definitive conclusions reflected inadequacies of the evidence available and should not be interpreted as proof of the adequacy or inadequacy of the condom to reduce the risk of STDs.” The panel also recommended that more research be done.
The National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Agency for International Development organized a workshop in June 2000 to review the current research. Twenty-eight experts analyzed more than 138 peer-reviewed, published studies on the use of the male latex condom during penile-vaginal intercourse.
Analysis of combined data from several studies on related research questions showed an 85 percent decrease in risk of HIV transmission among consistent condom users versus non-users. These data provide compelling evidence that consistent use of the latex male condom is a highly effective method for preventing HIV transmission, the report said. Studies also show a 49 percent to 100 percent reduction in risk of gonorrhea among men reporting condom use compared with non-users.
For HPV, the panel found there was no evidence that condom use reduced the risk of HPV infection, but study results suggested that condom use might afford some reduction in risk of HPV-associated diseases.
STDs, including HIV infection, affect more than 65 million people in the United States. Many STDs can cause infertility and problems with pregnancy, and can be passed from a mother to her infant. Long-term infection with HPV can cause cervical cancer if not diagnosed (through annual pap smears) and treated. In addition, most STDs increase the likelihood of transmitting HIV infection at least 2- to 5-fold. Most STDs can be treated successfully.
The workshop summary, “Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention,” is available online at www.niaid.nih.gov/dmid/stds/ condomreport.pdf.
COPYRIGHT 2001 U.S. Government Printing Office
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