Tag Archive: condom quality

Letter about the condom quality article that one person did not like



I have spent over 20 years talking to gay guys about their lives, their sex and HIV. Having shared the pain of HIV with hundreds of guys, I think I am extremely sensitive to the agony that HIV can cause.   I will do what I can to help our community to grow strong and be healthy.  Hence the motivation for my writing a health column in Xtra.  I hope to never attack anyone in our community or any community organization in this effort, however I will criticize the government (and others) and their policies when they are harmful to our community.

I was surprised that there was controversy about my column on condoms.   My intent was to question the quality of condoms the government is providing.   I had expected that both BCCDC and maybe other organizations would come out with statements to the effect that they wanted the best possible condoms for our community and that they would research condom failure rates in an effort to help keep our community safe and healthy.  I researched the facts before I wrote the column, and did more research after it was published.  I stand by what I said in the column in Xtra.  US FDA began to use the same international standards as Canada in 2009, their standards before 2009 were very similar to the international standards Canada uses.  In both countries condoms are medical devices.    I am hoping that the column on condoms will result in the best possible condoms for our community.   It is too bad that we have not seen progress on this issue so far.

More stuff on Condoms and quality



Who thought condoms could be so exciting?  Here I am again talking about condoms.  I thought that there would not be so much to say about these little guys but I guess there is. There are a few points to talk a bit more about.


First of all just about everything you buy inCanadahas some kind of standards that it must pass.  I could not think of anything that didn’t.  At first I thought maybe if you buy dirt for your flower patch it would not be controlled, but no almost everything has to pass standards, this includes condoms.


Condoms in Canada must adhere to International Standards.  US also in 2009 began using the same international standards for condoms, before 2009 they only used a US standard that was almost the same as International Standards.   So if you go to theUSand get condoms they too should be equally safe as you good old Canadian condoms that you are used to.


I asked Jody Jollymore at HIM about their condom distribution program.  Though they have not done a formal survey of their condom users they hear good things about them.  Jody feels that the current condoms are better than the old ones that they used to provide, in that he gets reports that they are thinner and feel better.


All condoms brands will have a few that break in use as Consumer Reports says some brands will break more than others.  Studies of heterosexuals show about 1% of condoms break.  But maybe (it is only a guess) gay guys with more practice and experience have a lower percentage of breakage.  But it is interesting that if HIM gives out 150,000 condoms in a year, 1% breakage would mean 1,500 would break, if we are better at using condom than most and have half the breakage rate then 750 of these condoms would break.  But no one, not one person, reports condom breakage to HIM. Elgin Lim of Positive Living also told me that they do not get reports of condoms breaking.  I personally in social discussion do not hear of condoms breaking, but as a therapist I do hear of them breaking and it affects peoples relationships, and sense of safety and security in having sex.  But it seems people do not talk much about condom breakage socially.


Now for some good news.  Jody told me that HIM will respond to requests for larger condoms and non latex condoms by providing these condoms at the Sexual Health Centre beginning next month (he hopes).  (address and opening times here???)


Non latex condoms are important for guys who have allergies to latex.  Many guys may not know that they have a latex allergy.  I am told that a non scientific test to explore if maybe you have a latex allergy is if you blow up a balloon or two or three and your lips tingle and feel a little numb you may have a latex allergy.  This maybe something you want to explore further because you do not want your cock or your asshole to feel numb, feeling is part of the fun of fucking.


I talked to Elgin Lim at Positive Living Centre about their condom distribution program and he said they get their condoms from Vancouver Coastal Health, he said that they receive comments on their condoms that they are a bit “basic”, guys say they do not fit well or feel good to use.  They are trying to obtain different condoms for their members.


I asked BCCDC how they choose their condoms and at press time they could not provide an answer. So there seems to be no more information I can find as to how BCCDC chooses their condoms and how they rate in terms of failure rate to other brands.

We may get free condoms but are they the best?

Free but are they the best condoms?
OPEN WIDE / Why isn’t the government giving us the best protection?
Bill Coleman / Vancouver / Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Studies show that some condoms break more often than others. So why isn’t the government giving gay guys the condoms that are least likely to break?

Like everyone else, gay men deserve the very best in healthcare and safer sex protection. To support our taking care of ourselves, the government generously provides free condoms to various community groups for distribution.

The condoms are appreciated and, it seems, used often. I asked a local gay shop if they sell many condoms. The answer: they sell more to straight people since gay guys use the free ones from the government.

The free ones generally come from the Ministry of Health, which supplies Durex Sheik Sensi-Creme. They come in a red package that says Durex on them.

One  local agency gives out more than 50,000 such condoms a year. Some of those 50,000 will inevitably break in use, but we want that number to be as small as possible, right?

Consumer Reports tested 22 condom brands for breakage. Unfortunately Durex Sensi-Creme was not one of them.

In February 2010 Consumer Reports found seven condoms that passed all their tests. It’s rare that anything passes all their tests. Our Ministry of Health condoms are not among of the seven top-scoring brands.

Assuming the seven that passed are the best condoms currently on the market, I have to ask: why doesn’t the ministry hand out one of those brands rather than one untested by Consumer Reports?

Maybe the Ministry of Health never bothered to research the quality of the condoms it purchases for us. Maybe it just does not care. Homophobia? More likely just uncaring.

Maybe the ministry wants to save money, especially since another department pays for treating sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Maybe the community never questioned the government on its choice of condoms before.

Granted, it’s not like the Durex condoms took the test and failed. They just haven’t been tested byConsumer Reports.

So, time to do some more research. I called the BC Centre for Disease Control (the arm of the Ministry of Health that gives out condoms) and asked:  “How was the brand chosen?” and “Do you have any data on breakage rate?”

The Centre for Disease Control got back to me and said they are concerned about quality but do not have ratings for the condoms they’re distributing. They said the supplier screens for quality, but no additional information is available.

So I called Durex to ask them about breakage rates for the Sensi-Creme condoms. They told me they had no data comparing different brands for breakage and that they knew of no other research regarding this brand.

I asked if they have a brand they recommend for anal sex. Durex manager Brandy Schwing did not know the answer to this question but said she would get back to me. She never did.

Some people might say, “Stop whining; the condoms are free. If you don’t like them go buy your own.” But imagine if someone told you, “Stop whining. We will give you mediocre heart surgery and if you don’t like it go find your own and pay for it yourself.