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Withholding critical health information

Abstinence-only programs fail

Posted 1/2/18

Enthusiasm for abstinence-only-until-marriage approaches have also dealt a blow to sex education, family planning programs and HIV prevention efforts.

Between 2002 and 2014, the percentage of …

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Withholding critical health information

Abstinence-only programs fail

Posted

Enthusiasm for abstinence-only-until-marriage approaches have also dealt a blow to sex education, family planning programs and HIV prevention efforts.

Between 2002 and 2014, the percentage of U.S. schools that require students to learn about human sexuality fell from 67 percent to 48 percent and requirements for HIV prevention fell from 64 percent to 41 percent.

The researchers note that in the mid-1990s, 81 percent of adolescent males and 87 percent of adolescent females got formal instruction on birth control methods. That fell to 55 percent of young men and 60 percent of young women by 2011-2013.

Leslie Kantor, PhD, MPH says, “Young people have a right to sex education that gives them the information and skills they need to stay safe and healthy…. from young people is a violation of their rights. Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs leave all young people unprepared and are particularly harmful to young people who are sexually active, who are LGBTQ, or have experienced sexual abuse.”

The United States Congress has spent more than $2 billion on domestic abstinence-only programs between 1982 and 2017, and another $1.4 billion on abstinence-only-until-marriage in foreign aid for HIV prevention. Current guidelines prohibit U.S. states from using funds to educate teens about birth control except to talk about their failure rates.

“Abstinence-only-until marriage as a basis for health policy and programs should be abandoned,” Santell said