Condom services to prevent HIV transmission: are they workable? [editorial]
This editorial argues that in order to increase the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS, WHO's Global Program on AIDS (GPA) must address the problems of weak condom distribution and promotion systems. The available data indicates that condom use can protect against HIV transmission. Studies in Zaire, Denmark, Germany, and Australia reveal that seropositivity among prostitutes who use condoms is much lower than among prostitutes who do not use condoms. However, the use of condoms largely depends on whether services are available to the people who practice risk behavior, and whether such people can be motivated to adopt safe sex practices -- including proper and consistent condom use. In order to bring about this desired behavior change, it is essential to have a strongly managed integrated program that combines condom services and health promotion, as well as specific plans and budgets to distribute and promote condoms. In supporting national AIDS programs, GPA's current strategy for condom services includes the following: 1) the provision of high-quality, low-cost condoms; 2) assistance in developing comprehensive program management and technical support plans and budgets for incorporation into subsequent funding cycles; and 3) support for research and development of new methods for preventing the sexual transmission of HIV -- including barrier methods that can be controlled by women.