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  • CONTRACEPTIVE IMPLANON MAY BE WITHDRAWN FROM MARKET –– Hailed as one of the most effective contraceptives ever, Australian doctors say the product could be withdrawn because of rising insurance costs just 2 years after its introduction. Implanon is a hormonal implant inserted into a woman’s arm for up to 3 years. The slow-release contraceptive is already used by more than 160,000 Australian women. But an investigation by Australian United Medical Protection or UMP, has revealed that at least 44 women are in the courts claiming unwanted pregnancies, in a majority of cases, from doctors failing to correctly insert Implanon. UMP and others that handle patient compensation claims may substantially raise indemnity costs for doctors wanting to continue to administer the drug, for fear of litigation. MDA National, another medical insurance company, is charging an extra $5,000/year, the equivalent of insurance costs for an obstetrician. Dr. Heather McNamee says many doctors were inadequately trained in the use of Implanon, 4 cm by 2mm. To insert, if held at a certain angle, it can slip out of the introducer and it’s very difficult to notice unless the doctor double checks just before it’s put in. The problem is that mostly teens and young adults get Implanon from their GP. Most GPs will not pay the extra charge, because because they don’t do enough of these procedures. [ The World Today – 30 Sept03; Dr Heather McNamee with Toni Hassan]
  • UN REPORT ADDS TO A CONDOM DEBATE – HIV failure rate found to be 10% – A draft report for the UN’s AIDS agency has found that even when people use condoms consistently, the failure rate for protection against HIV is an estimated 10 percent, making them a larger risk than portrayed by many advocate groups. [John Donnelly, Globe Staff 6/22/03; L. Benn]
  • WOMEN ON THE PILL ‘STILL FALL PREGNANT’ Researchers found that two thirds of France’s unplanned pregnancies were among women using contraceptives. A fifth of the unplanned pregnancies happened when women were on the Pill and a tenth were among those using the intra-uterine device (IUD). France has the highest use of contraception in Europe, but researchers said the findings were likely to be matched across western Europe. Dr Nathalie Bajos and colleagues from Inserm, France’s national medical research institute, studied 2,863 women. They found that most unwanted pregnancies were the result of misuse of contraceptives. Sixty per cent of women who became pregnant while taking the Pill had forgotten to take one or more pills. About half of the women whose unplanned pregnancy occurred while using condoms said the condom had slipped off or become torn. However, 18 per cent of women using the Pill who fell pregnant had been ill or were taking other medication, while 57 per cent of IUD users did not know why their device failed. Dr Bajos, who outlined the findings in Human Reproduction, said it was “essential to differentiate between what are the theoretically most effective methods of contraception and what is the most practicable method for a particular women at a particular time in a particular relationship”. In another study published in the journal, researchers found traffic pollution raised the risks of male infertility. Sperm quality in 85 motorway toll staff was compared with 85 other men by a team at Naples University. Sperm counts and hormone levels were normal, but in the attendants all other measures of sperm quality, such as motility (ability to move spontaneously), were below World Health Organization criteria. [Human Reproduction; The Spectator, By David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent 30/04/03; 1May03; Telegraph Group Limited 2003]
  • AIDS CONDOM MESSAGE SLIPPING IN THAILAND, EXPERTS WARN Thailand’s celebrated anti-AIDS campaign slashed infection rates in the 1990s, but health experts warn the disease is again on the march because people don’t always use a condom. [French Press, 6/2/03; Abstin Clrnghse E-Mail Update 4Jun03,]
  • SEX DISEASE DRUG RESISTANCE ‘SPIRALS’Almost one in ten cases of gonorrhea in England and Wales has developed resistance to a key antibiotic used to treat it, says a report. The study, carried out in genitourinary clinics in both countries, found that the rate of resistance had more than tripled since last year. [BBC News, 5/30/03; Abstinence Clearinghouse E-Mail Update 4Jun03]
  • GMU HALTS DRUG HANDOUT George Mason University is the second Virginia university that has stopped distributing emergency contraceptive pills as a result of inquiries by Delegate Robert G. Marshall, who has demanded more information from state-funded schools about the dissemination of the drug. James Madison University’s board of trustees voted April 18 to stop distributing ECPs after receiving a March 31 letter Mr. Marshall sent to several state-funded schools. GMU had recently discovered they were distributing the pills, which are taken within 72 hours after intercourse to prevent conception, without a license to dispense, according to Maryann Braun, director of the campus health center. She estimated that GMU stopped giving out the pills, also known as morning-after pills, about a month ago. The school continues to write prescriptions for ECPs to students. Mr. Marshall said, “Giving women a powerful drug that can cause early abortion and not telling them is a very important issue to a lot of people. And why universities should be involved in this is another question that a number of my colleagues will be taking up next year.” [By Jon Ward, June 4, 2003]
  • PRICE OF EC – a survey of the availability of Emergency Contraception, or the “morning after pill”, by Life Dynamics checked prices: Texas A&M Univ sells the pills for $6, while a nearby PP facility charged $50 for the exact same pills, making a huge profit. [Life Dynamics News, 3/03]
  • SEASONALE – a new birth control from Barr Labs to be released this year. It is claimed to reduce a woman’s menstrual cycles to 4 per year. It suppresses ovulation and also acts by changing the uterine lining to prevent implantation.
  • EC – “There is a big push in NYC for emergency contraception to be made available over the counter. The bill is still in the assembly, but NARAL is having a demonstration this Sunday outside city hall to urge the mayor to see that women have ready access to EC. NY is a mess!” [CPC director from NYC, email message 15Mar03]
  • USAID (US Agency for Int’l Dev’t) is the #1 purchaser and distributor of condoms in the world. Since 1986, this federal agency has spent $427,814,384 on condoms (close to half a BILLION). USAID pays 5 cents a condom. USAID has thus purchased ~8.6 billion condoms since 1986. (NOTE: This is not the total amount of condoms purchased by the federal gov’t, just by USAID) The Philippines have received $7,512,894 in condoms from USAID. From 2001-present, USAID has provided the Philippines some P219 million worth of contraceptives. The nation’s Health Secretary, Dayrit: “Our supply is so high that in provinces, people running health centers use the pills to grow orchids and the condoms for party balloons.” The pills, along with condoms and injectable contraceptives, are part of the aid provided by the USAID. Dayrit made the disclosure in explaining why the Philippine population program would not be greatly affected by the decision of USAID to cut down on its assistance. Dayrit said what health personnel had been doing to get rid of the oversupply in contraceptive pills was “common knowledge.” Even without
    USAID’s help, enough contraceptives are available at health centers nationwide, he added
    . The USAID website tells of female traders in the poor nation of Benin who were recruited with USAID funding to promote condoms. Benin has received over $3 million worth of condoms from USAID. According to the USAID website, “With USAID-financing…more than 6.5 million condoms” were distributed in Benin in 2001 alone. One woman hired to promote condoms, known as condom “Market Mamas,” admitted: “I still think that it would be better if people would just be faithful.” [; Philippine Daily Inquirer , 15Jan03; L. Benn, 2Mar03]

  • HEALTH CLINIC SUSPENDED AFTER DISTRIBUTING CONDOMS TO TEENS – The staff handed out bags to teens at the Senior Bowl football game: the bags contained prophylactics, a tube of non-spermicidal sexual lubricant and a card reading, “The Perfect Nightcap, compliments of Franklin Primary Health Center.” [ AP, 22Jan03; Abstinence Clearinghouse]
  • SCOUTS TO GET FREE CONDOMS AT INTERNATIONAL JAMBOREE Scouts at the 20th World Scout Jamboree (Thailand) will be provided with free condoms on request, Dr. Pipat Yingseri of the Public Health Ministry said. Yingseri said condoms would be supplied at the event because reports of participants engaging in sex had emerged from past scout gatherings. About 20,000 boy and girl scouts from 80 nations are expected to attend the event. Most of the scouts are ages 14 -18. [AP, 12/23/2002; Abstinence E-mail Update, 8Jan03]
  • SINGAPORE TO GIVE CONDOMS TO MALE TRAVELERS — HIV prevention packs. The announcement was made at the third annual Singapore AIDS conference. The Health Promotion Board will distribute the packs through local travel agencies. Homosexual acts are illegal in Singapore, and AIDS is seldom discussed. Over 200 people/year are HIV-infected in Singapore, a city-state of 4 million people, has 1,788 HIV cases, with men ages 20 to 59 making up 90% of all the cases. [AIDS Weekly, 12/23/2002; Abstinence E-mail Update, 8Jan03]
  • PROSTITUTION IN CHINA GETS IGNORED BY GOVERNMENT Although prostitution is illegal in China, the government ignores young women who are involved in prostitution, earning as much as double what they would otherwise have received from working in state-owned enterprises. Local officials and the local economy get a boost from prostitution because the young women must pay “tips” to their “mama-sans” (pimps) and the taxi drivers and tour agents who bring in the customers. They must also pay some of their income to the local police. The local government also benefits because many of the hotels where these encounters take place are owned by the city. This rise in sex trafficking is bringing STDs. According to the Chinese gov’t, more than 120 million Chinese have hepatitis B and at least 1 million have HIV. Even though there is an increase in STDs, the Chinese government refuses to acknowledge prostitution publicly because it is shameful and embarrassing. [The Washington Times, 1/7/2003; Abstinence E-mail Update, 8Jan03]
  • CDC: HIV RATES UP, CONDOM USE DOWN AMONG MSM, MOST HOMOSEXUALS WITH HIV UNAWARE THEY ARE INFECTED — Condom promotion has been sold by CDC as the panacea to HIV transmission for two decades. The Subcommittee asked the CDC in 10/01 what efforts were being made by the agency to address on-line HIV/STD risk. A year and a half later, we have received no action plan from CDC. Yet the vast majority of gay men have abandoned condom use according to new data. About two-thirds of MSM who found sexual partners on-line did not use condoms while 58% who did not use the internet to find sex partners, likewise reported not using condoms during anal sex in the last six months. In addition to not using condoms during anal sex, between 75 to 98% of MSM with HIV are unaware they are infected. And those already infected with HIV were even less likely to report using condoms, knowingly putting their sex partners at risk for infection. Exactly when a sexual encounter between “discordant” partners is most hazardous was the subject of a report from a long-term study of men and women in the Rakai district of Uganda: the greatest risk of virus transmission was in the first 5 months after one person in the couple became infected (rate – 8.2 transmissions per 1,000 acts of coitus). Afterward, the rate fell to 1 transmission per 1,000 acts. In the year before an infected person’s death, the rate rises again to 4.3 transmissions per 1,000 acts. About 900,000 people in the USA are believed to be HIV-infected.

    Young black men who have sex with other men are more likely than their peers to have not disclosed their sexual orientation to others. “Nondisclosers” are less likely to know that they carry HIV and are more likely to have recently had sex with a woman (CDC). Overall, 8% of closeted men were HIV+ compared to 11% of men who were open about their sexuality. Of those with HIV, 98% of nondisclosers were unaware of the infection compared with 75% of those who were open. [Reuters Health 6Feb03; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2003;52:81-85; D. A. Shehan, Univ Texas Southwestern Medical Center Dallas 7Feb03; [email protected] L.Benn, 12Feb03]