House Members Ask GAO to Account for All Condoms Containing Nonoxynol-9 Distributed Directly or Indirectly by the U.S. Government
Reps. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) and Dave Weldon (R-Fla.) yesterday sent a letter to the U.S. General Accounting Office asking the comptroller to order a review of all condoms purchased and distributed, either directly or indirectly through international or nongovernmental agencies, by the U.S. government since 1989 to determine whether the condoms were coated with the spermicide nonoxynol-9, a substance that may increase the likelihood of HIV transmission. As the basis of their concern, the representatives cite a 1989 study by researchers at the University of Washington that concluded that nonoxynol-9 raised HIV risk by causing vaginal lesions and genital ulcers that facilitate viral transmission, and they ask GAO to determine:
- How many condoms containing nonoxynol-9 were purchased by the government or with government funding and whether such distribution is still ongoing;
- How many HIV infections may have been caused by those condoms;
- If any effort was made by the government to "discourage the use and production of nonoxynol-9 coated contraceptives including condoms";
- The overall percentage of condoms containing nonoxynol-9 sold in the United States and worldwide; and
- A complete listing of published studies on the substance and its effect on HIV transmission.