BODY ARTICLE

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‘Condoms are the Vaccine We’ve Been Waiting For’

But improper condom use is a worldwide health concern

"While we'd like to think the AIDS epidemic is going away, it's not. In the U.S, it's getting worse," says Richard Crosby, a member of the Kinsey Institute Condom Use Research Team (CURT), professor at the University of Kentucky, and lead editor for Sexual Health journal's special issue compiling worldwide research. "We keep looking to medical doctors for the solution to the epidemic, but it's the wrong paradigm … The prevention of the disease is the modern solution to the AIDS pandemic, and we need to begin applying that solution in earnest."

"Condoms are the vaccine we've been waiting for," Crosby says.

In the special issue of Sexual Health, more than 20 researchers examine and discuss condom use research from around the globe, including issues such as safe-sex behaviors by American adults, counterfeit condoms in China, and use of female condoms in South Africa.

Problems with the correct use of the male condom, such as not wearing a condom throughout sex or putting it on upside down, are common in the U.S. and have become a major concern of public health officials. Countries around the world are facing similar challenges. "We chronically underestimate how complicated condom use can be," Crosby says. "It involves the use of a condom, while negotiating the condom use and sex with a partner all at the same time. There is a complex triad of the sex act, condom use, and partner dynamics that must constantly be navigated by condom users."

He said the gap between the correct use of condoms and the more typical use, which increases its fail rate, points to a need for better education and instruction regarding condom use. Making condoms accessible to people who need them is important, but improved clinic-based counseling, public education and Internet-based education efforts are all key requirements to their correct use. This involves talking openly about such things as erections, semen, lubricant and other aspects of sex that can make people uncomfortable. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does post information about using condoms correctly and consistently.

Crosby said this lack of education and detail because of embarrassment or discomfort comes at the cost of individuals' health and lives. Compared to costly HIV and AIDS medications, condoms are inexpensive.

Condom use is just one preventative measure you can take to protect your health. Think of other preventative measures you could be taking that could not only save thousands of dollars down the line, but possibly your life. Be proactive!

Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by Spec-ta-cles

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