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Accuracy, efficacy and ethics of abstinence-only programs questioned by public health experts
Date:9/16/2008

September 16, 2008 Studies published in a special issue of the online journal Sexuality Research and Social Policy by the University of California Press reveal that abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education programs fail to change sexual behavior in teenagers, provide inaccurate information about condoms, and violate human rights principles. Edited by John S. Santelli, MD, MPH, professor and chair of the Heilbrunn Department of Family and Population Health and Leslie M. Kantor, MPH, assistant professor of clinical Population and Family Health at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, the theme issue examines scientific and ethical implications of federal abstinence-only policies and programs. To access the articles in this issue: http://caliber.ucpress.net/toc/srsp/5/3

In sum, the articles show that abstinence-only programs contain medical inaccuracies, fail to help young people to change behavior, and conflict with ethical standards. Abstinence-only programs violate young people's right to accurate informationand also teachers' and health educators' rights to answer questions and provide medically accurate information. Many states have now refused to participate in the federal program (25 states as of August 2008) citing concerns about efficacy and accuracy of abstinence-only programs. The federal program provides funding for abstinence-only education and restricts information about contraception and other aspects of human sexuality.

"Abstinence-only programs have a broad variety of problems with accuracy, efficacy, and ethics," Dr. Santelli. "These studies clearly demonstrate that federal promotion of abstinence has failed in its primary goal of helping young people delay initiation of sex, and actually, withholds life-saving information from young people."

"Many states are rejecting abstinence-only funding often over concerns about medical acc
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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