The CDC: Does Medical Accuracy Matter Anymore?

May 29, 2014

FLASH sex education is coming to save Arizona children! Imported from the state of Washington, FLASH is sold as a trustworthy source of information for teaching sex.

Curious about FLASH, I took to the Internet. Wow! Double Wow!!

As expected, FLASH teaches condoms. But it doesn’t stop there…

**Dental Dams**

Think we’re talking about a trip to the dentist? In a sex education lesson – dental dams? Not a chance.

Students in high school…sophomores…are taught to cut a latex condom with scissors to make a dental dam…for use in having oral sex. Does this make you ask even one question? Even one?

What about “medical accuracy?” How in the world would a dental dam prevent STDs for people engaging in oral sex? So I asked. I asked the Director of Health Education in Washington. And I asked the Centers for Disease Control, the CDC.

What is the medically accurate truth about dental dams? Read on…Arrow Down Blue

Line Break 2 May 10Inkwell Black Short
To:   CDC
Subject: Dental Dams STI

Question: Your fact sheet on Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) recommends “using latex condoms and dental dams the right way every time you have sex” in order to “avoid getting PID.” Please refer me to the science-based studies that give evidence on the efficacy of dental dams for prevention of PID.

Thank you, Jane Jimenez

Line Break 2Typewriter SketchMay 14
Good Morning Ms. Jimenez,

Thank you for your inquiry. Below is the response from our subject matter expert.

Oral sex is a common sexual practice and may serve as a route of transmission for Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis, causative organisms of PID. Generally, the use of a physical barrier, such as a dental dam, during oral sex can reduce the risk of transmission of HIV and other STDs. Please see the references in attached articles for possible supporting evidence supporting effectiveness of dental dams in prevention of STDs:

  • Do women use dental dams? Safer sex practices of lesbians and other women who have sex with women
  • Sexual practices and dental dam use among women prisoners – a mixed methods study

I hope this helps to answer your question.
Public Inquiries, Division of STD Prevention    CDC

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May 14
To:  CDC
Dear “Public Inquiries,”

Thank you for sending the two studies named above related to dental dams.  However, I am at a loss as to how to use them as scientific proof of the claim on your Pelvic Inflammatory Disease [PID] – CDC Fact Sheet [which states]:

  • You can prevent PID if you know how to protect yourself.
  • You can protect yourself from getting PID by

— Not having sex;

— Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results;

— Using latex condoms and dental dams the right way every time you have sex. [bold added]

I am also alarmed that this CDC Fact Sheet is being used by educators and curricula around the country to promote recommendations to adolescents on sexual practices that appear to have no verifiable efficacy.

In brief, neither of these two studies you provided me has any bearing on the efficacy of using dental dams for prevention of STDs:

Checkmark Green Lg The studies admit in their own reports that there is “no research evidence” to support the CDC Fact Sheet claimthere is no research evidence supporting the use of dental dams or their effectiveness in preventing HIV transmission. [emphasis added]

Checkmark Green Lg The two studies involve 1) a lesbian population and 2) a women’s prison population, where lesbian sex is implied if not stated.  Heterosexual activity is only incidental in the surveys.

Checkmark Green LgThe two populations studied have no bearing on the U.S. general population at large, even less so on the U.S. general adolescent student sub-population.

Checkmark Green LgThe studies involve self-reporting interviews & surveys of lesbian subjects regarding their sexual behaviors without any correlation to medical studies on incidence rates of STDs, much less any attempt to prove a reduction in the incidence of STD infections and a correlation of such a reduction with use of dental dams.

Checkmark Green LgStudies make use of terms that have no scientific definition or rationale.  For example, appropriate as barrier protection, is supposedly studied during the course of one study without any quantifiable or valid justification for the word “appropriate” related to use of dental dams.

Checkmark Green LgNo medical exams of study participants are ever done to identify STD infections present before, during or after the interviews or sexual encounters.  No STD data of any kind is presented.

Certainly, the CDC must appreciate the implications of CDC claims about sexual behaviors and their risks related to STDs and pregnancy.  It is hard to imagine the CDC claim regarding dental dams would be made with only these two studies as backup.

This is a serious issue in light of the thousands of students who will be CDCtaught to rely on dental dams contrary to any scientific research that supports the CDC claim.  This CDC Fact Sheet puts the health of young people and others at risk.

This is of utmost and immediate importance.  Our local school district is constructing their sex education program to be presented next year to over 13,000 students. The recommendation of dental dams is in their current working draft.

Please give me the name of the CDC individual responsible for the information on the CDC Fact Sheet and how to reach them.

Sincerely, Jane Jimenez

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Typewriter SketchMay 23, 2014
Good Morning Ms. Jimenez,

Thank you for your insight into the content of the PID fact sheet. We appreciate your feedback and are currently reviewing the literature. We will promptly update the fact sheet accordingly. Once again, thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Public Inquiries
Division of STD Prevention  CDC

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Cuckoo ClockUh, um, uh, duh, soooo…..

Tick, tock, tick, tock…

I’m waiting…

You’re waiting…we’re all waiting…

For just a little medical accuracy…                                    Sleeping Boy




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