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FPA Makes Admission on 'Hubba' Campaign

Investigate News Release

2pm June 14 2005

Family Planning Association Admits 'Hubba' Campaign "May Not Be Accurate Enough"

95BFM's Noelle McCarthy has gained an admission from Family Planning that the No Rubba No Hubba safe sex campaign may not be accurate.

Speaking to McCarthy on BFM's The Wire this afternoon*, Family Planning's Dr Christine Roke conceded that the chances of catching Chlamydia, gonorrhea or herpes through a condom may be as high as 60%, as outlined in the latest Investigate magazine.

"But I would have thought that even 40% protection still made condoms worth using," Dr Roke told McCarthy.

The BFM news director asked however whether the Hubba website and TV ads were being "honest" to young people when the chances of infection when using a condom were still so high.

Dr Roke then admitted that the Hubba campaign "may not be accurate enough".

The Family Planning spokeswoman then stunned listeners by adding that "abstinence is the best protection".

Late yesterday, the Ministry of Health shot itself in the foot by claiming on 3 News that the medical journal studies cited in Investigate had questionable validity.

Investigate editor Ian Wishart says the Ministry of Health was obviously trying to duck for cover as the controversy grows, because the magazine used medical studies that the Ministry of Health had intially recommended to it as part of a WHO Bulletin analysis.

"The Ministry of Health wants to have its cake and eat it too," said Wishart. "On the one hand they tried to fob off our investigation by suggesting the WHO had found no evidence of a problem, and when we actually checked up and found the opposite for ourselves and published it, now they're trying to rubbish the very studies they claimed supported their own position."

Wishart said those studies were an absolute demolition of the claims in the Hubba TV ads and website.

On the virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer, the WHO Bulletin says 20 scientific studies so far have "found no evidence that condoms are effective".

On Chlamydia, now New Zealand's leading cause of bacterial infection, the WHO report notes that even people who use a condom every time and perfectly may run a 74% risk of catching Chlamydia regardless. Yet in the Hubba TV ad playing on TV at the moment, the Ministry of Health is still claiming that a condom is "the only protection" against Chlamydia.

"That claim from the Ministry of Health is an outrageous distortion of the truth," said Wishart. "A kitchen sieve will probably give you as much protection from Chlamydia as a condom. It's time to end the 'safer sex' lie, and it's time to face the truth - condoms don't work against most STDS, and publicity material needs to start reflecting that otherwise young people are not being given the chance to make informed choices."

A British Medical Journal study cited by the WHO says a safe sex promotion in the UK was successful in the sense that more people used condoms and used them properly, but the control group being tested recorded a "significant increase" in sexually transmitted diseases even though they were using condoms more.

The WHO quotes two more studies in US medical journals that show almost no difference in infection rates between people who always use condoms and people who never use them.

"If we in the news media cannot sense blood in the water around the Ministry of Health," said Wishart, "there is something seriously wrong with our journalistic sense of smell. The Ministry has been caught without any answer to our allegations, and they're questioning Investigate's credibility because we used the studies the Ministry recommended to us. Who's running the Health Ministry now, Monty Python?"


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