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New study says condoms can protect against HPV

Rachel Hart,
Reproductive Freedom Project
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June 22, 2006

An article in this morning’s New York Times reports that the consistent use of condoms protects against HPV.

In the study, which independent experts said was the most conclusive to examine the role of condoms in preventing infection with the virus, women whose male partners used condoms every time they had sexual intercourse had less than half the rate of infection as did women whose partners used condoms less than 5 percent of the time.

Although the Food and Drug Administration recently licensed a human papillomavirus vaccine that is widely expected to prevent many warts and female cancers, the findings of the study are important because the vaccination protects against just four strains of human papillomavirus.

The issue has been controversial because a number of earlier studies of condoms and human papillomavirus produced conflicting findings about the degree of protection that condoms offered women.

If you remember, back in November 2005 the FDA issued draft language for condom labels that said condoms “greatly reduce, but do not eliminate” the risk of pregnancy and HIV infection when used correctly during sexual intercourse and that they provide “less protection” from other STDs, including HPV. These draft guidelines were issued after Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) questioned CDC and FDA statements in August 2003 that condoms can reduce the risk of transmission of HPV. According to Coburn, the HPV epidemic is growing “because people continue to deny the fact that condoms aren’t effective in reducing it.” He added, “You can have 100% condom use in this country and you would still have HPV.”

But Souder and Coburn weren’t happy with the FDA’s draft guidelines and believed that they overstated condoms’ effectiveness at preventing HPV: “This is speculation rather than scientific fact and is misleading,” Coburn said in a statement, adding, “Such claims of protection should not be made without conclusive scientific data”

Do you think this study will sway Coburn and Souder?

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