Condoms are effective in fighting AIDSAIDS is a serious...

the Forum

February 18, 1994

Condoms are effective in fighting AIDS

AIDS is a serious health problem, especially among teen-agers and young adults.

In 1991, HIV disease/AIDS became the sixth leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds in the United States. As of September, 1993, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received reports of 1,415 AIDS cases diagnosed in teen-agers aged 13 to 19; 12,712 AIDS cases diagnosed in young people aged 20 to 24; and 51,006 AIDS cases diagnosed in people aged 25 to 29.

In Maryland, through Dec. 31, 1993, nearly 19 percent of all diagnosed cases of AIDS were diagnosed in people aged 20 to 29 (1,481 out of 7,844).

Since many people are infected with HIV for 10 years before they develop full-blown AIDS, many of the people diagnosed with AIDS in their 20s were most likely infected during their adolescence.

In response to this growing problem, the CDC launched a Prevention Marketing Initiative last Jan. 4. This campaign, consisting of television and radio public service announcements, designed to reduce HIV disease by stressing consistent an correct latex condom usage to youth aged 18 to 25.

These messages have started to air on national networks and will be distributed by CDC to local media in the near future for their use.

Also, the week of Feb. 14 is National Condom Week. This event is held every year in conjunction with Valentine's Day, and is designed, in part, to raise awareness about the correct and consistent use of latex condoms for people initiating or maintaining sexual relationships.

Of course, abstinence is still the best way to prevent contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV. There are, however, segments of our society that choose to practice risky behaviors, and latex condoms do provide protection for those sexually active individuals.

Last Aug. 6, the CDC's Morbidity and Mortal ity Weekly Report provided extensive information regarding the efficacy of latex condoms.

This report cited studies among discordant couples (where one person is HIV infected, the other is not infected) showing latex condoms are highly effective when used consistently and correctly.

In one study of 123 discordant couples who used latex condoms every time they had sex, none of the uninfected partners became infected.

Also, the report stated that studies by the federal Food and Drug Administration confirm that latex condoms are a highly effective mechanical barrier to HIV-sized particles. The report noted that in the manufacturing process, latex condoms are double-dipped latex and undergo stringent quality control procedures.

Knowing what we do about how HIV disease is spread, and about how effective latex condoms are in preventing the spread of HIV, prevention programs administered by the Maryland AIDS Administration cannot neglect the portion of Marylanders who do choose to be sexually active.

Latex condoms, therefore, have been, and must remain, a part of the prevention effort, as must messages about how abstinence is the most effective method of preventing sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

For further information about latex condoms and HIV/AIDS issues in general, please call the Maryland AIDS Hotline (1-800-638-6252). This Hotline offers services in both English and Spanish. There is also a Hotline for the deaf and hard-of-hearing at 1-800-553-3140.

Kathleen F. Edwards

Baltimore

The writer is the director of the AIDS Administration of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Hall's example

I would like to applaud Wiley Hall for his courageous column concerning anti-Semitism (Jan. 27). Mr. Hall always writes thoughtful articles about the black community, but this time he supported the Jews in a strong statement against the words of Khalid Abdul Muhammad.

Thank you, Mr. Hall, for speaking out against the extreme unfairness and hatred brought on by bigotry of any kind. I hope people of all races and religions follow Mr. Hall's example.

Rosanne D. Silverman

Reisterstown

Bad press

Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam has been getting a lot of bad press lately. This is due in part to a rather abrasive style that rubs us white folks the wrong way, and partly because he allows others to speak for him who lack tact.

There are other reasons, too, but then he really doesn't care what white folks think about him anyway.

I heard the minister speak and later interviewed him while a student journalist at the University of Washington in Seattle 24 years ago. After writing the stories I was told I was one of the few white journalists who could be trusted. That was probably the zenith of my journalistic career.

I was treated courteously, but it was an intimidating atmosphere, being surrounded by several suited but unsmiling bodyguards who were as big as houses.

Undaunted, I continued taking notes and wrote a news story for the Associated Press and a longer feature for my school paper. I was the only journalist invited to the press conference -- my first and last exclusive.

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