Condoms No Protection Against HPV Epidemic

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - Contrary to widely-held assumptions, condoms do not afford any protection against human papillomavirus, or HPV, a virus that infects an estimated 24 million Americans and is the cause of over 90 percent of all cervical cancer, a leading Washington cultural analyst told

"Only one percent of teens aged 15 to 17 and adults aged 18 to 44 can name human papillomavirus as a sexually-transmitted disease," Robert Knight, director of cultural studies at the Family Research Council, told a press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

"Why isn't the Center for Disease Control waging an aggressive public health campaign to educate Americans about this epidemic? Why does Planned Parenthood and its allies give scant, if any, attention to the most prevalent STD in the country?"

"Condoms are powerless in protecting against HPV. When this information gets out, the 'safe sex' fallacy will be exposed," Knight said.

Basketball star A.C. Green, Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Amy Holmes of the Independent Women's Forum, and abstinence educator Pat Funderburk challenged the CDC to collect data on HPV and to call for warning labels to be affixed to condom packaging.

According to the National Cancer Institute, condoms do not guard against HPV. The U.S. has the highest rate of sexually-transmitted diseases in the developed world, and a higher rate than some developing countries. HPV is the most common incurable STD in the U.S., with as many as 24 million Americans infected, according to the Medical Institute for Sexual Health.

By comparison, between 650,000 and 900,000 Americans are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

HPV has been linked to over 90 percent of all invasive cervical cancers, the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine reports, and is the number two cause of cancer deaths among women, after breast cancer.

In 1960, syphilis and gonorrhea, still easily treatable infections, were the only two significant STDs. Today there are at least 25 STDs.

"Since 1980, eight new sexually transmitted pathogens have been recognized in the United States alone," the Kaiser Family Foundation reports.

According to the Institute of Medicine, "approximately 12 million new [cases of] STDs, 3 million of them among teenagers, occur annually."