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« UN agency labels PNG's HIV and AIDS crisis a pandemic | Main | Fr Jerry’s dying wish for reconciliation: 'No payback for my murder' »

08 June 2014

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One issue that health workers do not clarify is that the use of condoms is not 100% effective for the individual. There is a certain failure rate which is very small but nevertheless still there.

Therefore for an individual who knowingly engages in unsafe sexual behaviour using a condom should remember that one or two times out of a hundred times it occurs the condom will not be protective.

The only 100% method is abstinence.

On the other hand at the population level it is a very effective method to decrease transmission and bring down HIV down to negligible levels. This is because of an effect known in immunisation circles as “herd immunity”.

For instance in whooping cough, the current vaccine used is only 60% effective. This means that in an epidemic 6 out of 10 people will still get whooping cough even if one is vaccinated. However if over 80% of the population is vaccinated transmission of the disease is cut off and no outbreak occurs.

As a corollary, if over 80% of people use condoms, the transmission of HIV will cease even if there is still a very minute risk of infection despite using it (as is occurring in the west now).

That is why the Health Department is promoting the use of condoms. The primary problem is of course failure of behavioural change and in PNG condoms are not being used.

The issue is really about how we bring about behavioural change in people. That is a separate issue from the issue of condoms.

Just like the current measles immunisation that is going on to control the outbreak of measles health workers have to promote the use of condoms to help in controlling transmission of HIV/AIDs.

The insinuation that provision of condoms is promoting sexual promiscuity is irresponsible.

Congratulations Keith for publishing articles like this. Not all papers and blogs are willing to do so.

One may agree or disagree (I personally agree) with the author, but at least somebody stresses the fact that personal mature behaviour and choice is key to personal health and safety.

It applies indeed to many other aspects in life such as drinking, driving, chewing and so on...

There can no amount of traffic police in the streets to fully stamp out reckless driving. There is no amount of condoms distributed to protect people from STDs. There is no vaccination for HIV/AIDS as in the case of polio and other diseases.

Unfortunately in the case being discussed the problems are not the youth but the adults: they regularly misbehave, so they have non moral credibility and capacity to guide the young ones on the right path and inspire them.

It will be completely up to new generations to chart a new course. No hope from those who only offer palliatives but not the real cure.

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