Senate Committee Cuts Abstinence Funds genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis

Birds And Bees

In a move that is consistent with recent studies, a Senate committee voted to cut funding for controversial abstinence only education which has not proven to be effective. The committee also voted to increase funding for the Ryan White CARE Act.

A Senate Appropriations Subcommittee has cut next year’s budget for controversial programmes that teach abstinence as the only way to practice safe sex.

The programmes have been found to routinely teach medically inaccurate information about contraception and HIV/AIDS and mandate teaching that sex outside of a heterosexual marriage "is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects."

In April 2007, the Department of Health and Human Services released a federally funded report conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. that found that these programmes have no impact.

Youth who participated in them showed no difference in either the age they first had sex or in the number of partners from those who had not participated in an abstinence-only until marriage programmes.

The Senate committee also provides $31 million in additional funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, including $25 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance Programme.

The Ryan White CARE Act has suffered in recent years under the direction of the GOP controlled congress and with the insistence on funding abstinence programs by the Bush administration. Faith based groups with little prior experience in sex education and AIDS prevention have taken the lead in many of these programs...often leaving longstanding organizations struggling to maintain important programs with successful results.

Abstinence only programs are also a requirement attached to the Presidents African AIDS initiative. Under that program, a third of all prevention funding is required to be spent on abstinence only programs. As with the U.S. based programs, these programs have not been effective in combating the spread of HIV.

The most recent statistics on combating the spread of AIDS in Africa offer a grim assessment. For every South African initiating lifesaving medications last year, five others were infected with the disease.

Despite President Bush's recent announcement to expand funding to 30 billion dollars, the disease continues to have the upper hand. Hopefully money spent on abstinence programs can soon be directed into other efforts to combat HIV.

Daniel DiRito | June 21, 2007 | 6:49 PM
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