Bush Administration Needs to End Its ‘War on Condoms,’ New York Times Columnist Says
The Bush administration's conservative "support base" needs to end its "war on condoms" because it could lead to "millions of deaths" from AIDS-related illnesses and a rise in sexually transmitted diseases worldwide, Nicholas Kristof writes in his New York Times column. According to Kristof, President Bush has not yet "fully signed on to the campaign against condoms," but there are indications that he soon will. In July 2001, a CDC fact sheet on condom use was removed from the agency's Web site and replaced with a fact sheet that says condoms "may not work," Kristof says, adding that last month, U.S. delegates at an international conference in Bangkok requested the deletion of a recommendation for "consistent condom use" to combat HIV and STDs. Further, Kristof states that the number of condoms the United States donates worldwide has dropped from 800 million at the end of former President Bush's term to 300 million currently, or less than one condom per year for the average man in Botswana. In addition, opponents of condoms have begun "disinformation campaign[s]" that use "junk science" in order to "discredit condoms" and discourage their use, Kristof writes. He says that the "scientific consensus" is that condoms, while "far from perfect," significantly reduce the risk of HIV and gonorrhea for men and "probably" reduce the risk of other STDs. Kristof writes that he is "all for" abstinence education, noting that there is evidence that such programs are effective in delaying and reducing sexual contact among young people, but adds that "disparaging condoms is far more likely to discourage their use than discourage sex." Kristof concludes, "It's imperative that we get over our squeamishness, accept that condoms are flawed but far better than nothing, recognize that condoms no more cause sex than umbrellas cause rain, and ensure that couples in places like Botswana get more than one condom per year" (Kristof, New York Times, 1/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.