the case for a comprehensive sex education

the case for a comprehensive sex education - AIDS PATIENT...

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AIDS PATIENT CARE and STDs Volume 16, Number 7, 2002 © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Commentary The Case for Comprehensive Sex Education NAOMI STARKMAN, J.D., and NICOLE RAJANI, M.A. ABSTRACT Half of all new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections in the United States and two thirds of all sexually transmitted diseases (STD) occur among young people under the age of 25. It is estimated that by the end of high school, nearly two thirds of American youth are sexually active, and one in five has had four or more sexual partners. Despite these alarming statistics, less than half of all public schools in the United States offer information on how to obtain contraceptives and most schools increasingly teach abstinence-only-until-marriage (or “abstinence-only”) education. There is little evidence that abstinence-only programs are successful in encouraging teenagers from delaying sexuality activity until marriage, and con- sequently, avoiding pregnancy, or STD or HIV infection. Comprehensive sex education, which emphasizes the benefits of abstinence while also teaching about contraception and disease- prevention methods, has been proven to reduce rates of teen pregnancy and STD infection. 313 INTRODUCTION H ALF OF ALL NEW human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections in the United States and two thirds of all sexually transmitted dis- eases (STD) occur among young people under the age of 25. It is estimated that by the end of high school, nearly two thirds of American youth are sexually active, and one in five has had four or more sexual partners. In addition, there are 1 million teen pregnancies in this country each year. 1 Clearly, millions of young people across the United States are engaging in sexual behavior that places them at risk for HIV/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and other STDs, as well as pregnancy. Despite these alarming statistics, there is no federal mandate to teach sex education in pub- lic schools and less than half of all public schools in this country offer information on how to obtain birth control. 2 This is because of, in large part, our tradition of denying the real- ity of teenage sexual activity. This unrealistic and outdated attitude has greatly endangered adolescent sexual health and hindered effective HIV prevention. The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the sup- port of AIDS research, prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS- related public policy, is dedicated to prevent- ing HIV infection. As part of this mission, amfAR’s goal is to protect the lives of our youth by advocating frank discussion on sexuality, in- The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), New York, New York.
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cluding responsible sexual behavior and effec- tive ways to prevent disease. During a recent appearance on the music
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This note was uploaded on 02/13/2011 for the course WRIT 50 taught by Professor Vella during the Spring '07 term at UCSB.

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the case for a comprehensive sex education - AIDS PATIENT...

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