In an attempt to further inform the adult population of America on the dangers of pre-marital sex, the Bush administration is pushing for larger warning labels on condom packaging, indicating condoms are not 100 percent effective against all sexually transmitted diseases. While it is commendable that the U.S. government is interjecting in the war against STDs, pushing such warnings in the face of a population that is barely accepting the use of condoms may end up backfiring.
According to the Global Sex Survey of 50,000 adults conducted by Durex, 75 percent admitted to never using protection. It would appear the Bush administration is focusing mainly on women, however, as it is singling out human papilloma virus (HPV) as main reason for its push. While HPV is most commonly attributed to causing genital warts, if untreated it can lead to cervical cancer. According to The New York Times, recent studies conducted indicate that condom packaging leaves out these details citing the failure to protect against HPV.
The Food and Drug Administration would regulate this discrepancy by providing consistent labels about the potential failure of condoms in regard to certain STDs, as Dr. Daniel G. Schultz, FDA director if the Office of Device Evaluation, told The Times.
Currently, labels are printed on the interior and exterior of the condom box, as well as on condom wrapper itself. These labels say that if properly and regularly used, condoms help to reduce the risk of STDs and unplanned pregnancy. They also indicate a failure rate of 95 to 98 percent in protecting against such afflictions, including HIV. Breaking down the efficiency rate by virus would not only turn packaging into a miniature novel, it could stir negative reactions as well.
According to The Times, some lawmakers share similar concerns. “Anything that undermines the effectiveness of condoms for these uses will have serious public health consequences,” Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. said.
While abstinence is the only way to be 100 percent protected from any virus or pregnancy, condoms are the most effective contraceptive against both. The president should focus his efforts on advocating condom use with wisdom, rather than use scare tactics. People may feel it unnecessary to use a condom at all if they feel that it will fail regardless.