Condom Reliability

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The failure rate for condoms in preventing pregnancy is 15% to 17% over the average year.  It only drops to 2% when they are tested in laboratory conditions.  Amongst the young, the failure rate is 20%.  In a medical trial, 20 out of 100 young women relying on condoms became pregnant in a year.  That’s worse odds than Russian Roulette.

A BBC Panorama programme on Sunday 27th June 2004 effectively discredited the view that minute holes in condoms allow the HIV virus (the AIDS virus) to pass through. Not once did it tackle the much thornier problem of condom failure. The failure rate is actually around 17%, according to a review of the literature on condom effectiveness written by a British GP:

So condoms appear to be around 83% effective against pregnancy, which obviously relies on the transmission of sperm. Their effectiveness is greatest amongst married couples, and worst among the young unmarried and promiscuous. So ‘safer sex’ is not ‘safe sex’. It’s not ‘safer than safe’, it’s safer than nothing. And when we add in the effectiveness, or lack of it, of condoms against STD’s, that’s not saying much.

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