House Members Write Thompson About NIH Condom Study
Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), along with several other House members, have written a letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson "expressing their frustration" over the recent NIH report that found there is insufficient data to prove that condoms are 100% effective against certain STDs (Bay Area Reporter, 7/26). The NIH report, which was released on July 20, stated that there is "insufficient evidence" that male latex condoms prevent transmission of "most" STDs beyond HIV and gonorrhea. Although the report "clear[ly]" supports condom use for preventing the spread of HIV and gonorrhea in males, it concludes that more research is needed to determine whether condom use can effectively protect against transmission of human papillomavirus, chlamydia, syphilis, chancroid, trichomoniasis and genital herpes. Pelosi and colleagues write in the letter that they are "particularly concerned" about certain "flaw[s]" in the report's development, such as the exclusion of several "important peer-reviewed papers" and other "relevant information," as well as information that became available after the NIH meeting convened to address the issue. They add that "[i]n certain instances where papers addressed more than one STD, information was included for one disease and not the other." The letter states that the NIH report "understates the strong epidemiologic evidence supporting condom effectiveness for chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis and herpes," and that "[u]ndermining the public's confidence in condoms" could lead to an increase in transmission of those diseases, as well as a rise in "risky behavior" and unintended pregnancies. The letter urges HHS to allow the Institute of Medicine to "investigate the science of condom effectiveness, including the role of condoms in reducing the risk of unwanted pregnancy and exposure to HIV and other STDs" (Pelosi letter, 7/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.