Sunday, August 3, 2008

Another Opportunity to Diss Abstinence Education

The release of the new, higher, HIV infections rates has provided another opportunity to put out the absurd Talking Point that abstinence until marriage is not an effective method of avoiding sexual disease transmission. Actually, today's San Francisco Chronicle uses the front page story to claim that abstinence education is not merely ineffective, but actually counter productive.

Higher rate of new HIV cases cites Julie Davids, the director of a community activist organization in New York City:
Davids and other advocates said the United States - led by the next president - needs to increase the prevention strategies that are known to work, such as needle-exchange programs; to reverse policies that advocates argue are counterproductive, such as government-sponsored programs urging abstinence until marriage or bans on distributing condoms in prisons; and to broaden the definition of prevention to include tackling social issues contributing to the spread of HIV.(My bold added)

I added that second bolding because I would have thought that the social problem that needs to be addressed is pre-marital and extra-marital sexual behavior.

Remember back in March when the story on teen STD rates came out and the New York Times got in this false statement:
The president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards, said the new findings “emphasize the need for real comprehensive sex education.”
The national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure,” Ms. Richards said, “and teenage girls are paying the real price.”(my bold added)
See the great write-up by Get Religion's Terry Mattingly here.

Then in July, when the Pennsylvania school district has such a high number of students with sexually transmitted diseases, and the news story included this:
Dr. Joseph Rahimian, an infectious disease specialist at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City, said besides education, parents need to be aware of Gardasil, a cervical cancer vaccine that protects against four types of HPV.
"Regardless if you think your child is sexually active, getting the HPV vaccine is in the best long-term interest of these young girls," Rahimian said. "I think HPV was always a problem and it is often underestimated. There's no study that abstinence is a highly effective form of prevention for any of these infections."(my bold added)
See the great write-ups on this by Mollie Z at Get Religion and LeStourgeon OnLine.

This is a pattern of misinformation.


TLF+ said...

Man, same as in the Episcopal Church. Certain people see no problem with lying or hiding information just so they can maintain titles, positions and other perks.

Like church leaders, public officials have a trust and responsibility in the eyes of God. Those who abuse their positions will face a terrible fate on the Lord's Day.

The Underground Pewster said...

"There's no study that abstinence is a highly effective form of prevention for any of these infections."

That gets my vote for quote of the day!

(Because we all know that STDs are spread by toilet seats)

The Underground Pewster said...

Or maybe that was the misquote of the day. (reading the comments at Get Religion)

Perpetua said...

Hi Underground Pewster,

Thank you for pointing that out. At Get Religion comment #10 by Joseph Rahimian says:
July 28, 2008, at 10:23 am

"Just to clarify, what I told Foxnews is that teaching abstinence does not translate into a significant decline in rates of STD’s, based on the medical literature. Obviously if you are actually not having sex, you wont get an STD, but simply telling young people not to have sex is inadequate as a mode of prevention, for the overall population. -joseph rahimian"

So the problem is not that abstinence doesn't work, but that the abstinence education curriculum is not effective in supporting the living out of abstinence.

Rather than dropping abstinence education, the curriculum needs to be re-designed to help students develop the actual life skills for abstinence. So we need money directed towards this worthy goal.

Minicapt said...

Well, if they'd quit holding hands, everything would be okay.

Mind you, "... protects against four types of HPV ..." is a little diversionary since there are some 60+ types to be concerned about.