Myth #2: Condoms frequently break
Some have questioned the quality of latex condoms. Condoms are classified as medical devices and are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Every latex condom manufactured in the United States is tested for defects before it is packaged. During the manufacturing process, condoms are double-dipped in latex and undergo stringent quality control procedures. Several studies clearly show that condom breakage rates in this country are less than 2 percent. Most of the breakage is likely due to incorrect usage rather than poor condom quality. Using oil-based lubricants can weaken latex, causing the condom to break. In addition, condoms can be weakened by exposure to heat or sunlight or by age, or they can be torn by teeth or fingernails.
Myth #3: HIV can pass through condoms
A commonly held misperception is that latex condoms contain "holes" that allow passage of HIV. Laboratory studies show that intact latex condoms provide a highly effective barrier to sperm and micro-organisms, including HIV and the much smaller hepatitis B virus.
Myth #4: Education about condom efficacy promotes sexual activity
Five U.S. studies of specific sex education programs have demonstrated that HIV education and sex education which included condom information either had no effect upon the initiation of intercourse or resulted in delayed onset of intercourse; four studies of specific programs found that HIV/sex education did not increase frequency of intercourse, and a program that included resistance skills actually resulted in a decrease in the number of youth who initiated sex. In addition, a World Health Organization (WHO) review cited 19 studies of sex education programs that found no evidence that sex education leads to earlier or increased sexual activity in young people. In fact, five of the studies cited by WHO showed that such programs can lead to a delay or decrease in sexual activity.