At the end of May, a high school in Qualicum Beach, B.C., announced that it hoped to introduce condom vending machines in its washrooms. “Condoms are not for birth control,” said a teacher. “It’s a health issue. We have to face reality.” A few days later, the Toronto Star reported that Toronto high school students may also be able to buy condoms from vending machines in washrooms, or even get them free of charge.

“We’ve been playing with life and death,” said Councillor Marily Churley, as she urged the city’s Medical Officer of Health to spearhead efforts to control the spread of AIDS. On June 19, it was announced that students of an Oxford college will be given condoms when they pick up tickets for the traditional end-of-year commemoration ball. Everywhere the condom is triumphant.

This holds true even in some Catholic publications. The March 1989 issue of the Companion of Saint Francis and Saint Anthony, “The Catholic Family Magazine,” carried a “Teen Talk” headed “Help Protect Yourself Against Aids” in which teenager Tracy Kennedy wrote, “The only way to protect yourself during sexual intercourse is by using the CONDOM. I put that word in capital letters because so far, this is the only protection against the deadly disease.”

Nevertheless, the Toronto Star carried a front-page story on June 2, declaring the condom failure is high and testing procedures inadequate. Canadian and U.S. government documents turned up disturbing findings concerning these protective devices, including the following:

–          Canadian officials who have been urging the public to use condoms did not check the quality of those sold in Canada between 1977 and 1987;

–          Since 1985, there have been 36 federal recalls of condom lots, and only two of these recalls were made public;

–     In 1985, Health and Welfare Canada was told that a major U.S. manufacturer had deliberately shipped defective condoms to Canada. This information was received by Ottawa but no action was taken.

–          Fewer than fifty of the hundred different brands of condoms have been tested.

Poor Tracy Kennedy had better go back to advocating chastity. That is the only true defense against AIDS.