Navigation Links
Accuracy, efficacy and ethics of abstinence-only programs questioned by public health experts

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:

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 accuracy and program efficacy," says Professor Kantor. "States are now lining up with the vast majority of parents and health professionals who support comprehensive health education."

"U.S. government's policies are out of step with the realities of young peoples' lives." observes Dr. Santelli. "Historical trends toward earlier sex and later marriage in the 20th Century are incongruent with abstinence-until-marriage policies and programs."

Individual Studies

Douglas Kirby assessed the impact of 56 programs on adolescent sexual behavior, comparing abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education programs. He found that most abstinence programs did not delay initiation of sex and only 3 of 9 had any significant positive effects on any sexual behavior. In contrast, about two thirds of comprehensive programs showed strong evidence that they positively affected young people's sexual behavior, including both delaying initiation of sex and increasing condom and contraceptive use among youth.

Alison Lin and John Santelli found that three commonly used, abstinence-only curricula often provide inaccurate medical information to adolescents, including false or misleading statements about the effectiveness and safety of condoms, and inflate the actual failure rate of condoms, suggesting that using condoms is somewhat like playing "Russian roulette" with HIV. Study results are consistent with earlier reviews that found medical inaccuracies throughout a wide sample of abstinence-only program curricula.

Marissa Raymond and colleagues explore the reasons that many states have rejected federal abstinence-only funds. Refusal states generally cite concerns about the efficacy and accuracy of abstinence-only curricula. Those states also tend to have progressive governments and strong advocates for comprehensive sexuality education. As of August 2008, 25 states had opted out of Title V funding including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Ali Miller and Rebecca Schleifer describe investigations by Human Rights Watch both in Texas and Uganda that abstinence-only programs violate key human rights principles. The article illustrates how international human rights principles and human rights tools can be used strategically by policy advocates and health programmers concerned about abstinence-only programs. Human rights violations include withholding accurate information about prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases and using discriminatory language about gay men and lesbians in abstinence-only programs. Abstinence-only education violates young people's rightsto information, to education, and to health.

Leslie Kantor, John Santelli, Julien Teitler and Randall Balmer provide an overview of abstinence-only policies and programs that includes a history of the growth in U.S. support for abstinence-only programs. These programs have their origin in particular religious viewpoints which are often at odds with mainstream public thinking. The article also illustrates key demographic trends, the effects of virginity pledges, and the ways that abstinence-only programs are out of step with key human rights principles.

A related article "Medical Accuracy in Sexuality Education: Ideology and the Scientific Process" has been published by Dr. Santelli in the American Journal of Public Health (October 2008, vol 98, no 10) and examines the criteria for determining scientific accuracy and the ways that abstinence-only programs overlook established medical facts.

To access this article:


Contact: Stephanie Berger
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Related medicine news :

1. Head-to-Head 96-Week Study Shows EPZICOM(R) is Comparable to Truvada(R) in Efficacy and Safety Measures in HIV Treatment-Naive Patients
2. Overcoming inhibitors of cell death improves cancer therapy efficacy
3. New Long-Term HUMIRA(R) (adalimumab) Data Show Up to Seven-Year Efficacy with Combination Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
4. A Drug With Efficacy Superior to That of Remicade at Inducing Closure and Healing of Fistulas Would Earn a 30 Percent Patient Share in the Crohns Disease Drug Market
5. USC researchers identify genetic markers that predict efficacy of novel cancer drug
6. Ohio State University Medical Center to Test Efficacy of Hyperbaric Oxygen Medicine on Stroke Victims
7. Pilot Study to Assess Safety and Efficacy of Medidur(TM) FA in AMD Patients Treated With Lucentis(R)
8. Shire investigational nonstimulant INTUNIV showed significant efficacy in reducing ADHD symptoms
9. Efficacy of FluMist(R) in Children Highlighted at Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting
10. Labopharm Appeals FDAs Decision on Once-Daily Tramadol to Next Supervisory Level After Additional Analysis Supports Efficacy
11. Gamma Secretase Modulators Show Promise in Alzheimers Disease Animal Model Efficacy Studies, According to Research Conducted by TorreyPines Therapeutics
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/27/2016)... Aliso Viejo, California (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... that are fully customizable inside of Final Cut Pro X," said Christina Austin - ... with another unique style. Final Cut Pro X users can now reveal ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Quality metrics are proliferating in cancer care, and ... in the eye of the beholder, according to experts who offered insights and commentary ... of Managed Care. For the full issue, click here . , For the ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... ... have been diagnosed with endometriosis. These women need a treatment plan to not ... comprehensive approach that can help for preservation of fertility and ultimately achieving a ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... First Choice Emergency Room , ... Sesan Ogunleye, as the Medical Director of its new Mesquite-Samuell Farm facility. , ... our new Mesquite location,” said Dr. James M. Muzzarelli, Executive Medical Director of First ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Angeles, CA (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... surgery procedures that most people are unfamiliar with. The article goes on to state ... procedures, but also many of these less common operations such as calf and cheek ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Any dentist who has made an ... current process. Many of them do not even offer this ... and high laboratory costs involved. And those who ARE able ... such a high cost that the majority of today,s patients ... Parsa Zadeh , founder of Dental Evolutions Inc. and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  In a startling report released ... failing their residents by lacking a comprehensive, proven plan to eliminate ... a definitive ranking of how states are tackling the worst drug ... only four states – Kentucky , ... Vermont . Of the 28 failing states, three – ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the ... 2016 - Forecast to 2022" report to their offering. ... up to date financial data derived from varied research sources ... with potential impact on the market during the next five ... comprises of sub markets, regional and country level analysis. The ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: