Philippine Daily Inquirer



THIS is in relation to the article “HIV spread fastest in PH— study” (10/22/19). The article quotes Louie Ocampo, country director of the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), saying that condoms are proven to be “very effective in preventing HIV transmissi­on” and that “it was important to ‘destigmati­ze and mainstream’ condom use and to provide preexposur­e prophylaxi­s to high risk groups.”

Though it is true that in the laboratory, tests show that condoms completely block the passage of the HIV virus, in the real world it may not be true that condoms are very effective in preventing HIV transmissi­on because of the imperfecti­ons in the way they may be used. And in this world no one is perfect.

Two studies in the late ’90s on uninfected men having sex with an infected partner and who report that they use condoms consistent­ly (100 percent of the time) show that 70 percent did not get infected. People might think that this statistic shows that condoms are “very effective” in preventing HIV infections. But there is a flaw in that thinking. A 30-percent failure rate to prevent infection is not a negligible rate. A 30-percent rate means that almost one out of three persons gets infected. So it still happens and quite often. Moreover, the studies have another flaw: They do not report what happened to the same couples after a period of time. The studies assumed that if at the time the study was made the couples were not infected, then they will not be infected anymore. But there is no follow-up report, so there is no way of knowing if that is true.

My recommenda­tion: Why take the risk? Condoms just give a mistaken confidence of zero infection. The best solution is self-restraint. Or better still, let these persons learn to practice the virtue of chastity.

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