March 17, 2008
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National STD Prevention conference presented research showing that 1 in 4 teen girls (or 3.2 million) have a sexually transmitted infection (STI). In addition, findings from two studies presented demonstrate that of young women receiving contraceptives, over half are not receiving appropriate counseling, screening, and treatment for STIs.
Taken together, these findings represent a simmering STD epidemic among our young people and a tremendous negligence in care for girls most at risk for contracting STDs. The call for an effective public health prevention strategy could not be more urgent. The current contraceptive-based education approach offered in 75 percent of U.S. schools not only relies on an overly narrow focus on physical health that is spurring an epidemic, but it also completely ignores the emotional consequences of premarital sex. Abstinence education is increasingly providing an efficacious and holistic approach to protect our young people's current and future health.
While the proponents of comprehensive or contraceptive-based sex education and much of the medical and public health community continue to pay lip service to prevention for our young people, these CDC results offer fresh evidence that the focus is on facilitating high-risk behavior rather than true primary and even secondary prevention. The risk-avoidance or sexual abstinence-until-marriage strategy must be adopted to help reverse the STD epidemic. It's an evidence-based approach with proven results for reversing the HIV/AIDS trends in several African countries--let's give it a chance in this country.
(See also the FRC Press release: "New STD Data Shows Need for Abstinence Education, Says Family Research Council")