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

, 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
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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