The Myth of Safe Sex

condomComprehensive Sexuality Education, and current state policies and programs are a continuation of failed public strategies.  In spite of a nearly universal adovcacy of "safer sex" practices to prevent STD's the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently found that:

  • 26% of teenage girls in the United States has at least one STD.
  • This includes 48% of African American teenage girls.
  • The most common STD's were Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Chlamydia

Why have these policies failed?  Undoubtedly there are several factors.  Young people are often given overly optimistic success rates for condoms in preventing pregnancy - 2% failure - rather than the more likely failure rate of 17%.  Furthermore, little mention is made of the fact that these failure rates are based only on those failures that take place on the few days of the month when pregnancy can occur.  The actual failure rates for disease prevention are even higher.  Condoms do little to protect against STDs transmitted by skin to skin contact, such as herpes and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).  In addition when given a false sense of security, young people take greater risks compensating for whatever benefit might be gained.  Finally condoms do not work unless they are used 100% correctly 100% of the time (an unrealistic expection for most teens). 

"...When one uses a risk-reduction 'technology' such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by 'compensating' or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology."  Dr. Edward C. Green

Dr. Edward C. Green, Director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project Center for Population and Development Studies

For more on Dr. Edward C. Green