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Condom failure, whose fault is it?

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18.AUG.06

EDITOR: Statements like, “condoms are 100% effective when used correctly” or “condom failure is almost always the result of user failure” do two things.

They place responsibility for condom failure squarely on shoulders of condom users. So if you use it and it fails, most health authorities and condom manufacturers through the above statements say it is your fault. The statements also blind us to other factors that contribute to condom failure, factors which are listed below and over which users have no control: {{more}}

*Common sense alone tells us that manufacturers defects occur. Manufacturers have, “allowed rates of manufacturing defects”. The present acceptable quality limit (AQL) for North American condom manufacturers is 99.6% of condoms free of leaks. The British AQL is 97%, and the Dutch AQL is 96.5%”. I am not aware of any AQL for SVG.

• “They age. One study found that the breakage rate for condoms increased from 3.6% for new condoms to as high as 18.6% for condoms several years old”. An expiry date does not tell you how old a condom is.

• “They deteriorate in even the best of conditions, but even more rapidly in extremely cold or hot situations. Condom wrappers recommend storing the product at temperatures between

59 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit”. Which of us can say that the condoms in our possession were properly stored before we got them? When they left the production line did the company leave them sitting in the factory yard in containers out in the sun or cold, and for how long? The inside of a sun beaten container can reach “180 degrees Fahrenheit”. How much time did they spend in containers on the sun or winter beaten deck of a ship. How much time did they spend sitting in Port authorities sun beaten container yard. The local suppliers from whom we buy them, are we absolutely certain their storerooms are maintained between 59 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit? How can anyone who can’t answer these questions about condoms, in good conscience recommend them as being safe?

• “The users are caught up in passion and do not properly follow the ten-to-sixteen-step process for safe usage”. This of course would be particularly true of teenagers.

• Users intoxicated by alcohol, marijuana or some other drug will not exercise proper judgment in selecting partners or following condom use steps.

• “Bodily secretions can get around and over a condom even if it performs perfectly”. Think of a person eating a pop-sickle, when only the last bit of juice is left in the long bag they run their fingers from the base of the bag toward the mouth of the bag pushing the juice along. A similar process can happen to bodily fluids accumulated inside a condom during intercourse.

• Deliberate condom tampering by malicious individuals intent upon vengeful spreading of disease or impregnating unsuspecting partners. We can’t pretend not to know of cases like these, we know them all too well.

Neither local health authorities nor ordinary citizens can control the above. Those who claim to want to prevent HIV and STDs need to be aware of these factors. At the same time to be aware of these factors and still recommend condoms as safe, is pernicious.

• (All Quotations came from the Condom Exposé available at www.hli.org)

SALT

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