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In one of the most highly publicised statements, in October 2003, the President of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, said: "The AIDS virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon.
The spermatozoon can easily pass through the 'net' that is formed by the condom.
Studies of condom efficacy have therefore largely contrasted HIV and STI incidence or prevalence in people who claim 100% consistent use against people who use them inconsistently or not at all.
Because these studies involve private behaviours that investigators cannot observe directly, it is difficult to determine accurately whether an individual is a condom user and whether condoms are used consistently and correctly.
However, because they are not always used correctly even if they are used consistently, studies have found efficacy rates of 85 to 87% when young women use condoms as their sole form of contraception.
Condoms are, however, the only method on that list that has been shown to protect against STIs as well as pregnancy.
In addition, however, people are not consistent in their use of condoms, and may not even be consistent when they claim to be, or think they are.The efficacy of an intervention is how well it works in a scientific trial or when people use it as indicated, i.e.consistently; its effectiveness is how well it actually works to prevent disease or infection in a given population, given actual levels of use.Moral questions about condom use are not within the remit of this resource, but questions of fact are, and condoms’ ability to stop HIV is periodically questioned by people opposed to their use on religious or moral grounds.