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Bush administration official criticizes D.C. condom plan

Bush administration official criticizes D.C. condom plan

Tom Coburn, cochair of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, is sharply critical of a plan by District of Columbia health officials to distribute free condoms in dispensers installed in some government offices, The Washington Post reports. To combat the spread of HIV in the district, which has the highest HIV incidence rate in the country, health officials plan to install more than 50 condom dispensers in such locations as the D.C. Housing Authority and the departments of Human Services, Motor Vehicles, and Public Works. But even though the plan has the backing of top district officials, including Mayor Anthony Williams and HIV/AIDS Administration interim director Ivan Torres, Coburn called the plan "misguided" and claimed that condoms fail to prevent HIV infections 20% of the time. "We used to think condoms were fairly effective," he said. "If used perfectly, they are probably 94% or 95% effective, but we're human, and we don't use them perfectly. The city would be much better off spending its money getting people tested, treated, and counseled not to give the virus to others." But health officials say the district needs to address HIV prevention on a variety of fronts, including providing condoms to sexually active residents. "We've got a lot of people dying in this town," said Sandy Allen, chair of the D.C.'s human services committee. "We have to err on the side of safety."

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