Monday, April 16, 2007



Faith-based policy fails again

An article of faith among the American religious right, and the Bush Administration which represents them, is the value of abstinence-only "sex education". If you tell teenagers not to have sex, get them to take "chastity pledges" and wear wierd jewelry, they'll resist their natural urges (not to mention the example of thousands of generations of teenagers before them) and not do it - with a consequent reduction in teenage pregnancy, abortion, and STIs.

There's just one problem: it doesn't work:

A survey of more than 2,000 teenagers carried out by a research company on behalf of Congress found that the half of the sample given abstinence-only education displayed exactly the same predilection for sex as those who had received conventional sex education in which contraception was discussed.

Mathematica Policy Research sampled teenagers with an average age of 16 from a cross-section of communities in Florida, Wisconsin, Mississippi and Virginia. Both control groups had the same breakdown of behaviour: 23% in both sets had had sex in the previous year and always used a condom, 17% had sex only sometimes using a condom; and 4% had sex never using one. About a quarter of each group had had sex with three or more partners.

Not that this will convince the Bush Administration - a hallmark of Bush's Presidency has been a complete disregard for facts in favour of their ideological preconceptions. But it might help convince policymakers here to stand up to pressure from our local religious lunatics and keep this bullshit out of our schools.

38 comments:

During my brief and mostly unpleasant time in Texas I met a Doctor who told me that she regularly treated anal herpes, fissures and other STD's amoung teenage girls who had taken celibacy vows. They'd promised Jesus that they'd stay a virgin until they were married so they practised unprotected anal sex instead.

Posted by Danyl : 4/16/2007 02:15:00 PM

Danyl: Gah!

I/S: So basically, nothing works?

From my point of view I say teach them everything biological. Teenagers need to know how every part of their reproductive system works and they also need to know about the various diseases and their signs and symptoms.

But somewhere along the line teenagers need to understand that intimate relationships have psychological (as well as physical) effects too.

I would say there's also the issue of alcohol use too. It's pretty hard to make sensible, rational choices when you're blotto on the floor.

Posted by muerk : 4/16/2007 02:33:00 PM

On the contrary, doesn't it say that it does work - in as much as one can say that conventional sex education works?

Either that or conventional sex education is as much a failure.

I'm not a fan of this sort of policy but this study is not really a slam dunk against abstinance advocation. (Note that the sample was from a wide range of communities from a range of states so it's not like this is just looking at conservative communities).

Posted by Neil Morrison : 4/16/2007 03:02:00 PM

I wonder what the "faith based policy" of teenage sex would have been like under the taleban?? But i guess their faith based policies wouldnt be criticised in this blog. It is only the faith based policies of 1 democratically elected country which is criticised.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/16/2007 03:38:00 PM

Muerk: But somewhere along the line teenagers need to understand that intimate relationships have psychological (as well as physical) effects too.

Oh, I agree. But telling them that its all about whether someone's hymen remains intact isn't doing this (and obviously, I wouldn't favour lying to them).

Neil: it is a slam-dunk of the claim that abstinence-only is better than normal sex ed (and in light of the side-effects Danyl mentions - which are well-reported elsewhere) I'd say that the case against it is pretty compelling.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/16/2007 03:51:00 PM

Idiot, it was your claim that this proves it "doesn't work", but this study doesn’t actually support that. All it says is that it works about as good as conventional sex education, or more likely fails to the same extent (I'm surprised myself).

Whatever Danyl's anecdotes this is actually some evidence about what teenagers do, it's worth being taken seriously in its own right rather than as an opportunity to grind axes.

On this evidence the case is strong that kids do what the want pretty much regardless and that abstinence is the preferred option. Which are points both sides of the debate could pay attention to.

Posted by Neil Morrison : 4/16/2007 04:16:00 PM

I/S:

One problem I do see is that places like Planned Parenthood made is sound as though as long as you use a condom you'll be safe.

What this fails to tell kids (and adults) is that what stops disease spread is vector reduction and what this means is a reduction in the number of sexual partners and most importantly regular sexual health checks.

I realise that PP is trying to veer away from the Puritanical/Calvinist "sex is evil" meme that seems to infect the American psyche, however there's medical sense in trying to encourage teens holding off on sexual activity and also to keeping the numbers of sexual partners to a minimum.

This isn't about being an abstainence "religious nutter", it's just good science to minimise your chances of exposure to pathogens.

And it's not even about HIV, it's more about the good ol' fashioned social diseases, like the clap and syphilis and all the lovely drug resistant strains we are breeding.

Posted by muerk : 4/16/2007 04:36:00 PM

My reading is that it says that US approaches to sex education are all pretty much of a muchness. I'd want to read the detailed description before leaping to conclusions, but I vaguely recall that US sex ed is poorly done in general. It may well be that in a puritanical society there is no good option (that's acceptable to the society), but that's not the same as there being no option that works anywhere.

It might be useful to ask what their goals are for sex ed - it seems possible to me that the goal is to assert control and be seen to be doing something, rather than to reduce STIs and pregnancy in teenagers.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/16/2007 04:46:00 PM

I/S said: it is a slam-dunk of the claim that abstinence-only is better than normal sex ed (and in light of the side-effects Danyl mentions - which are well-reported elsewhere) I'd say that the case against it is pretty compelling.

Not really a slam dunk - there are many different types of abstinence programmes and just because one study concluded that they don't work, it doesn't mean the same is true for all abstinence programmes in all US states.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/16/2007 04:59:00 PM

Western govts are replete with examples of useless left-wing policy that doesn't work, but that never seems to get repealed. Why would you assume this right-wing example would get junked?

M'lud

Posted by Anonymous : 4/16/2007 05:02:00 PM

The study was not simply a survey: it was a genuine experiment, with the subjects assigned to the abstinence only programs or to the control group by a lottery.

As far as I can tell (I only read the Executive Summary) the control group received no sex education whatsoever.

Posted by pete : 4/16/2007 05:18:00 PM

A link to this post turned up as a comment to this post at TBR

Condomania

My response to that comment follows

I been waiting for someone to bring that up Milt.

Your knowledge of this report is only from No Right turn and perhaps his Guardian link.

Not from the report itself.

I have the report and I am digesting it, maybe for a full post.

But the real joker in the pack is this.

The study looks at four different programs in four different states with different demographics. Here are the 4 demographics as described in the report



1. Mostly middle- and
working-class, twoparent,
white, non-
Hispanic families.
Semi-rural setting.

2. Largely poor, singleparent,
African American
and Hispanic families.
Urban setting.

3. Predominantly poor,
single-parent, African
American families.
Urban setting.

4. Predominantly poor,
single-parent, African
American families.
Rural setting.

In fact the first described demographic accounts for only about 20% of the entire sample.

Since these programs were first introduced (by Clinton not by Bush, as it happens) there has been a noticable decline in Teen pregnancies across the USA.

So while the Guardian and No Right Turn can get all excited they can only do so if they ignore that this survey is stacked with poor black children from sole parent households and does barely represents the average American teenager at all.

Posted by andrei : 4/16/2007 05:33:00 PM

Hmmm... The Washington Post reports this from the study:

"One thing they also learned, Trenholm said, was that kids receiving abstinence instruction did not use condoms less often than other kids, a possibility that critics occasionally raise. They also showed slightly better knowledge about the prevention of sexually transmitted disease."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/13/AR2007041301003.html

So Idiot... What were you crowing about again? Really, your bigotry about Christians does disturb me.

Posted by muerk : 4/16/2007 06:42:00 PM

This comment has been removed by the author. Posted by muerk : 4/16/2007 06:46:00 PM

Pete, i don't think that's true, the mathematica report is here - http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/PDFs/impactabstinence.pdf

Even with STDs there's no difference.

What struck me about this was not that it's a great poke in the eye for Bush but how similar the results are for the 2 groups. Well not just similar - the same. The average age of first sex is the same for both groups - 14.9 months. To one decimal place!

I'm of the opinion that it's important sex education should empower teenagers to disregard peer pressure one way or the other - eiter to have sex or to abstain.

Posted by Neil Morrison : 4/16/2007 06:56:00 PM

what the study does not tell us is how the deciet in having illicit/forbidden sex and the guilt from that affects those who have "broken their vows".

Because even if the rates of failure ( un-wanted pregnancy etc ) are equal then I'm sure those who are having sex and on the abstinance program are in a worse position.

Would shame at breaking the silly vows delay them in seeking treatment for std's or doing something about their missed periods/pregnancy?.

Given the high rate of failure on the absinance programs perhaps they are more about teaching how to live cynicaly and be a hypocrite .............. something the george bush type of christian knows all about.

Posted by nznative : 4/16/2007 07:43:00 PM

Neil;

If you have the report and have read it what do you think that age at first intercourse really means

Given
(1) 49% have never had intercourse and therefore were not included in calculating this figure
and
(2) the "age' when the subjects were interviewed varies across the four groups with the average age in of the groups being nearly 19 and in another on just 16.

Bear in mind as well that 2% of the subjects are under 12 and another 2% are over 20.

What is clear is though that if you were follow this group into the future the average age of first intercourse would increase as the as yet 49% as yet celebate begin their sexual activity and the bulk of them are now older than 14.9.

That 14.9 age of first sex is a meaningless figure in reality

Posted by andrei : 4/16/2007 08:03:00 PM

Whatever Danyl's anecdotes this is actually some evidence about what teenagers do, it's worth being taken seriously in its own right rather than as an opportunity to grind axes.

Danyl's anecdotes are backed up by a study too:

Teenagers who take virginity pledges -- public declarations to abstain from sex -- are almost as likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease as those who never made the pledge, an eight-year study released yesterday found.

Although young people who sign a virginity pledge delay the initiation of sexual activity, marry at younger ages and have fewer sexual partners, they are also less likely to use condoms and more likely to experiment with oral and anal sex, said the researchers from Yale and Columbia universities.

"The sad story is that kids who are trying to preserve their technical virginity are, in some cases, engaging in much riskier behavior," said lead author Peter S. Bearman, a professor at Columbia's Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy. "From a public health point of view, an abstinence movement that encourages no vaginal sex may inadvertently encourage other forms of alternative sex that are at higher risk of STDs."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48509-2005Mar18.html

And given Andrei's explanation that abstinence-only doesn't work with po' black folks, I'd be interested to hear a justification for the current exclusive White House policy emphasis on abstitence to combat Aids in Africa ...

Posted by Russell Brown : 4/16/2007 08:18:00 PM

What I/S has failed to mention is that the Bush Administration has spent the last six years and one billion dollars fervently promoting abstinence only programs. If nothing else the study shows that this has been a total waste of time and money.

Posted by Danyl : 4/16/2007 08:48:00 PM

And given Andrei's explanation that abstinence-only doesn't work with po' black folks, I'd be interested to hear a justification for the current exclusive White House policy emphasis on abstitence to combat Aids in Africa ...

Did I really say that Russel?

Or did I quote the report verbatim describing the socio/economic background of the subjects?


The reality is that this study is not representative of american teenagers at all but since it fits your worldview you will accept it at face value and make snide comments about po' black folks thus demonstrating once again the intellectual dishonesty that characterises the left.

Posted by andrei : 4/16/2007 09:25:00 PM

still sexually transmitted diseases do appear to be much more common in countries where sex is seen in a liberated way (like Thailand) than where it is seen in a more conservative way (like Iran or for a more open country - south Korea). And it doesn't make much sense that anti-sex education would have NO effect on tendency to have sex (any more than the suggestion that political ads would have no influence on voting).

Maybe we can say abstinence education has minimal effect as long as there are students around that are NOT getting abstinence education to have sex with?

Possibly it makes sex seem more special in a certain way? or maybe it is just largely wasted on those that are not the drivers of sexual activity.

I also wonder if the vast majority of the 44% are male. I remember a study that indicated that men had sex several times more often than women....

Posted by Anonymous : 4/16/2007 09:32:00 PM

> are almost as likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease

that sounds reasonable... a small difference.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/16/2007 09:36:00 PM

The reality is that this study is not representative of american teenagers at all but since it fits your worldview you will accept it at face value and make snide comments about po' black folks thus demonstrating once again the intellectual dishonesty that characterises the left.

Oh, chill out. Now you mention it, yes, three of the four courses studied serve poorer urban or rural black kids, so in that sense they are not necessarily representative of the national teenage population.

Good thing, probably, because they actually mask the results of the one white, middle class group, who were significantly less likely to remain abstinent than the black and Hispanic kids. Granted, that may have been because the program was bad (the same kids were most likely to state that condoms were ineffective at preventing STDs), but I don't think it does your argument any good.

Neither does this:

The administration also has budgeted another $241.5 million for abstinence-only programs in 2007. Kirby compared California and Texas, two states he said were similarly populous and were home to many Hispanics, a group whose teen pregnancy rates are high.

"California took a very progressive approach," he said. "Texas pushed abstinence and made it a little more difficult for teens to receive contraceptives. Pregnancy did go down between 1991 and 2004, but Texas had the second-lowest decline of all states, 19 percent. California had the second-greatest decrease, 46 percent.

"What's really sad is that Bush is trying to take some of the policies that didn't work in Texas and implement them nationwide."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/02/11/MNG7VO2LUV1.DTL

The same story notes that mixed-approach programs that had been demonstrated to work were cancelled because they weren't abstinence-only.

There was also this, from GWB's home state:

Abstinence-only programs like those promoted by the Bush administration don't seem to be working on teenagers in the president's home state, according to a state-sponsored study by Texas A&M University researchers.

The ongoing study, the first evaluation of the abstinence programs across the state, found that students in almost all high school grades were more sexually active after undergoing abstinence education.

Researchers don't believe the programs encouraged teenagers to have sex, only that the abstinence messages did not interfere with customary trends among adolescents.

http://www.actupny.org/YELL/abstinence_notworking.html

And please don't go shouting about people's "intellectual dishonesty". It's rude and it makes you look humourless.

Posted by Russell Brown : 4/16/2007 10:32:00 PM

I should add that there's another obvious risk factor.

Many conservative parents object to their daughters having the HPV vaccination before the risk period for first sexual activity, on the basis that they will remain abstinent until marriage. Clearly, many of them don't. So the parents are needlessly exposing their daughters to the risk of cervical cancer.

Posted by Russell Brown : 4/16/2007 10:46:00 PM

Russell Brown said "So the parents are needlessly exposing their daughters to the risk of cervical cancer."

No, they're not. If the children choose to engage in risky behaviour then the consequences are their own responsibility. If the child is old enough to make that decision they are old enough to go get the vaccination themselves.

The problem is, it's almost an article of faith from the family planning lot that children are going to have sex, let us just practice the harm minimisation approach and give them all the information just in case. With no guidelines or boundaries, then they make stupid decisions.

Abstinence education by itself, without support from family or friends, may not be very effective... it is just one programme but like anything that is any good the child needs to receive support from people they look up to, if they haven't got anyone then they will struggle. WHy is an abstinence programme any different from teaching kids not to steal or murder?

People talk as though sex were inevitable when kids get to a certain age, well the sad thing is that it almost is these days due to living in a sex crazed society where children are exposed to pornographic material at an ever younger age, I think it's now 11 on average.

If you want to enlighten yourself, go to here and read this blog from a guy who used to work in the adult video industry, there are the real consequences of sexually risky behaviour:

http://xxxchurch.com/07/blog_home.php?b=theindustry
Of course this is the industry he is talking about, that industry that doesn't really take on board or even promote the S/S message, yet it is a reflection of the kind of problems that come from the sex crazed society we live in.

Posted by KA : 4/16/2007 11:29:00 PM

For those who want to geek out, the full study is here [PDF]. Press release here. Having read the whole thing, the Guardian's take is correct. I'll let the report's conclusion speak for itself here:

"The main objective of Title V, Section 510 abstinence education programs is to teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage. The impact results from the four selected programs show no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence.

"Many Title V, Section 510 abstinence education programs focus on the risks of STDs, and the evaluation results show some improvements in knowledge of STDs... Program group youth, however, were less likely than control group youth to perceive condoms as effective at preventing STDs... Furthermore, program group youth were more likely than control group youth to report that condoms are never effective at preventing these STDs. As above,
My Choice, My Future! is a main source of these overall impacts."

(Emphasis added).

So, doesn't meet its objectives (in fact, worse than that if you check out table D2, you'll notice a statistically significant decrease in abstinence among girls who participated in abstinence programs), and among the few statistically significant findings there are some positively perverse and undesirable outcomes. Yeah, I'd call that a "success story".

As for what it is up against, as Pete notes, this was conducted as an experiment (though I have no idea how they got it past an ethics committee). Participants were randomly assigned to two groups; one received abstinence-only education, the other "only the usual health, family life, and sex education services available in their schools and communities". This varied depending on the community; the two urban sites offered full sex ed, while the two rural ones had pretty much nothing.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/17/2007 12:17:00 AM

I/S..you emphasise that abstinence groups are "less likely" to see condoms as effective at preventing STDs.

Wake up and sniff the latex, old chap...they're dead right to be suspicious...as I point out thoroughly sourced to the WHO, in Eve's Bite.

Why are you liberals so locked into the condom myth? Even Family Planning's Christine Roke was forced to concede to Noelle McCarthy on BFM that condoms don't offer much protection.

Yet liberal journalists continue to write newspaper and magazine stories lamenting the rocketing STD rates in NZ, despite much higher condom use than existed 20 years ago...

Posted by investigate : 4/17/2007 12:32:00 AM

> Participants were randomly assigned to two groups; one received abstinence-only education, the other "only the usual health, family life, and sex education services available in their schools and communities"

Hmmm that doesnt sound very robust... and I agree about hte ethics sideof it.. but I guess it aint easy to test this stuff

Posted by Anonymous : 4/17/2007 06:58:00 AM

Russell Brown said "So the parents are needlessly exposing their daughters to the risk of cervical cancer."

No, they're not. If the children choose to engage in risky behaviour then the consequences are their own responsibility. If the child is old enough to make that decision they are old enough to go get the vaccination themselves.


I can't believe you just said that. Let me explain: the HPV vaccination is harmless and apparently 100% effective - but only if it is administered before the onset of sexual activity.

These parents are resisting or refusing the vaccine on the belief that their daughters will be chaste, presumably until marriage, where they will be lucky enough to marry a man who has never had sex either. In the real world, about 5% of Americans are virgins when they marry.

You may want to reconsider that rather alarming phrase about it being the daughters' fault if they get cervical cancer via HPV. It might be seen as unduly callous.

The problem is, it's almost an article of faith from the family planning lot that children are going to have sex, let us just practice the harm minimisation approach and give them all the information just in case. With no guidelines or boundaries, then they make stupid decisions.

Who said there were "no guidelines or boundaries"? Clearly, it's highly beneficial to delay the onset of sexual activity, and essential to emphasise commitment and self-respect in relationships, and to help kids resist peer pressure. But to tip out every other tool in favour of a one-note song about abstinence that doesn't change behaviour is foolhardy.

WHy is an abstinence programme any different from teaching kids not to steal or murder?

Because 95% of kids don't commit murder before they get married?

Posted by Russell Brown : 4/17/2007 08:27:00 AM

I nose Russell, Iz just a po' white trash who got all uppity and above my station by looking at the data instead of taking what the liberal elite feed me via the Guardian.

But may I point out that those White folks from Virgina in the "survey" have by definition completed at least 4 years high school and have been out of high school for a least a year and that in all likelihood there are some who have married already!

Whereas the African American students from Rural Mississipi are on average three years younger and some of them have yet to even start high school.

But don't let that trouble you, mix 'em all together and pretend you have a random sample put out a number with the impressive p=.91 beside it (which incidently means you can't draw a conclusion from the data unless it suits the liberal agenda in which case the bar is lowered).

Thus are bold claims made and agendas served.

Posted by andrei : 4/17/2007 08:46:00 AM

Danyl, that billion dollars might be wasted on abstinence programmes but it seems it is no more wasted than the larger sums spent on regular sex education.

And I find that rather astonishing. My reaction is why doesn't the abstinence programme do more harm and why don't the normal programmes do more good. Surely a bit more important than the ritual condemnation of condservative Christians.

(I did get the fact that it is an experiment wrong).

Posted by Neil Morrison : 4/17/2007 09:29:00 AM

"WHy is an abstinence programme any different from teaching kids not to steal or murder?"

If you regard sex as tantamount to theft and murder, it's your problem.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/17/2007 09:59:00 AM

KA: the thing is that we are talking about children here. As a society we have decided that parents have a responsibility to their children. Would you say that "if they get hurt it's their own fault" if we were talking about crossing the road or drinking alcohol?

So, why is sex different to any other activity that children do?

moz

Posted by Anonymous : 4/17/2007 11:07:00 AM

Looking at the information given about the methodology it's not clear if the programme group did or did not get the usual sex education programme that the control group got -

"Youth in the program group were eligible to receive the abstinence education program services, while those in the control group were not, and received only the usual health, family life, and sex education services available in their schools and communities."

This is a bit ambiguous. If the programme group particiapted in both then the conclusion would be that the abstinence prgramme makes no difference. If they didn't then it suggests that the abstinence programme does just as well (or badly) as the regular sex eduction programme. Which would be very interesting.

Which ever way, the study's authors do conclude that the abstinence programme does not do the damage that some of its critics claimed would occur. So at 85 million a year it may a small price to pay for the expression of belief of some communities. If these programmes were damaging then that would a different matter.

Posted by Neil Morrison : 4/17/2007 11:37:00 AM

Why are you liberals so locked into the condom myth? Even Family Planning's Christine Roke was forced to concede to Noelle McCarthy on BFM that condoms don't offer much protection.

And you've certainly derived plenty of mileage from that one soundbite.

In a lab setting, latex condoms are 100% impermeable to STDs. Real-world effectiveness is governed by how condoms are used, and the reality is they aren't always used perfectly (or used on every occasion).

But the most striking real-world demonstration of the extent to which condoms can be effective is probably the Thai government's order that commercial sex workers use condoms. It was followed by a 95% fall in bacterial STDs nationwide.

The fact that, as I note above, teen pregancies have fallen twice as much in California, where a mixed approach is embraced, compared to abstinence-only Texas, would seem to be relevant too.

You might draw the conclusion that instruction in the correct use of condoms by youths who are going to have sex lowers risk. But that is explicitly forbidden content for abstinence-only courses.

Posted by Russell Brown : 4/17/2007 01:37:00 PM

The fact that, as I note above, teen pregancies have fallen twice as much in California, where a mixed approach is embraced, compared to abstinence-only Texas, would seem to be relevant too.

What gets convieniently left out here Russell is that California had the highest rate of Teen pregnancy (apart from Washington DC) in 1988 and that rate was about 50% higher than that Texas to start with. So there was a lot of room for improvement.

Why don't you use Utah in your examples? Is it because Utah's rate is about half that of Texas or California?

In the US the overall rate of teen pregnancy for blacks is about 3 times that for whites and for hispanics about double that for whites.

It has little to do with Condoms or sex-ed and everything to do with culture, which is why White Texans have a teenage pregnancy rate not to dis-similar from that of Utah.

Posted by andrei : 4/17/2007 02:59:00 PM

As a Catholic who is committed to the Church's teachings, I have no beef that condoms and contraception are not effective at what they do (used properly). They are. And I have no wish to censor sexual information either.

The issue I have is that no condom or vaccine or pill will shield the human heart and soul.

I disagree that teaching about sexual health is giving kids a loaded gun to play with. They have the loaded gun already thanks to hormones.

The point is, whether you ask kids to act rationally either by abstaining from sex, or even by using drugs or condoms to reduce the possible harm - these teenagers are not acting rationally.

Posted by muerk : 4/17/2007 05:52:00 PM

Unbelievable that Ian Wishart is still citing that WHO report as evidence that condoms don’t protect against STIs. His claims were thoroughly fisked back in 2005 in a thread on Idolblog. Here’s an excerpt from a lengthy debate that can still be found here (debate begins 9 August, re Hubba Hubba ads):

MusicFan [later changed to Mr Ubiquitous] wrote:

Um, it doesn't take a brainiac to look at the research and the reports by the World Health Organisation to understand that condoms don't work against any of the diseases mentioned.

What part of ""No published prospective study has found protection against genital human papilloma virus (ie, cervical cancer, warts, HPV) infection".( from World Health Organisation Bulletin of June 2004)" do you find it hard to interpret?

Veritas replied:

Okay, I’ve read the WHO Bulletin report of June 2004 by Holmes, Levine, Weaver, "Effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted infections", pp454-461
http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/82/6/454.pdf

I found that you have selected part of one quote about genital warts that suits your argument and left out the rest of the findings that support the use of condoms as a means of reducing the risk of other STIs !! So your claim that the report says "that condoms don't work against any of the diseases mentioned" is untrue.

The discussion section summarises the findings:

"This review of prospective studies published since June 2000 has identified evidence that consistent condom use is associated not only with reduced transmission of HIV and with reduced acquisition of urethral infection among men, but also with:

 reduced acquisition of genital HSV-2 infection by men and women;
 reduced acquisition of syphilis by men and women;
 reduce acquisition of chlamydial infection by men and women;
 reduced acquisition of gonorrhoea by women;
 possibly reduced acquisition of trichomoniasis infection by women;
 accelerated regression of cervical and penile HPV-associated lesions and accelerated clearance of genital HPV infection by women.

While they do say no study found protection against genital HPV, two studies reported that condom use could reduce the time it took to recover from genital HPV infections, by reducing re-infection between partners. This information was in the second half of the sentence you quoted and was important enough to be included in the abstract, as a qualifier of the main finding.

The report concludes:
"Since 2000 important new evidence has come to light to support the effectiveness of condoms in preventing STIs in men and women. In no study has the effectiveness been 100%. Nonetheless, even partially effective interventions can have a major impact on controlling the spread of STIs in the population. Balanced STI and HIV prevention programmes should include condom promotion along with a complementary combination of prevention strategies targeted towards different age groups, life stages, epidemic levels and settings. Condom promotion represents an important component of comprehensive HIV-prevention and STI-prevention strategies."

Far from counting against the Hubba safer sex campaign, this report supports it !! In fact, it’s one of many articles on the WHO site which support promoting condom use as a means of reducing the risk of STIs.

End quote

Posted by Veritas : 4/17/2007 09:18:00 PM