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worry in run up to test (Abstinence-Only Sex Education )
Nov 11, 2006

Dr. Bob: I wrote you the other day asking basically what you thought of my risk, that while I wait to get tested (it's free at my uni. later this month), I've been convincing myself that I'm positive. Well, I've made a decision to stop the worry and anxiety until I know something. I'm in law school and exams are coming. Positive or not, I know I'll still have a life and need to do well in school. Your words are so encouraging and you put things in perspective. Thanks for what you do for all the freaked out people like me who did something stupid and only later realize the gravity of their actions. I plan to donate to your organization and do what I can to encourage safe sex amoung my peers (including contacting that ex, who's causing me this current worry, to tell him to use condoms all the time and not suffer the anxiety I have - that is if I get to shout a big woo hoo! I'm hoping so!!). I've also made a vow to talk about sex and safe sex to my future children until they're bored of it. I wish my parents had been open with me and maybe I'd have been more outspoken and insisted on protection (a BIG issue for women I think), and comfortable talking about sex in general. If all they'd done was to hand me condoms and say "be careful" it could have empowered me and forced me to think about protection as my responsibility. Advice from parents is so much stronger than any ad campaign. Any parents reading this: talk to your kids about sex: early and often!! And it's never too late.

Thanks and God Bless!

PS. Yay for election results 07!! OMG and Rumsfeld too! And Brit and KFed, geesh what a 2 days!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

I agree with your decision to forego the anxiety and worry until (and if) there is something to be anxious about!

I also agree with your comments about sex education. Unfortunately most parents are woefully ill equipped to openly discuss sex with their kids. That's just one more reason I advocate for science-based, age-specific sex education in our schools. Hopefully the new Congress will do something about Dubya's misguided $170 million annual commitment to abstinence-only programs. (See below.)

As for the election results, Rummy and K-Fed, I'm delighted. The current theme seems to be "Farewell Scumbags" Cunningham, Ney, DeLay, Abramoff, Santorum, Frist, "Meccacawitz" (Allen), Foley, Haggard, Rummy and K-Fed!!!

Karma. It's a wonderful thing.

Be well.

Dr. Bob

Few Americans Favor Abstinence-Only Sex Education

November 8, 2006

The federal government's $170 million annual commitment to abstinence-only sex education is out of touch not only with research but also with public opinion, a new study suggests.

Lead author Dr. Amy Bleakley of the University of Pennsylvania-Philadelphia and colleagues surveyed almost 1,100 U.S. adults on the topic of sex education. Half expressed outright opposition to abstinence-only programs. Among self-described conservatives, 40 percent were opposed to abstinence-only education, and 70 percent supported comprehensive sex education. Overall, 82 percent of respondents said they support programs that promote abstinence but also include the facts about how to prevent pregnancy and STDs.

Bleakley said the team's findings "highlight a gap between policy, science, and public opinion."

Federally funded abstinence-only programs must meet eight criteria established in 1996. Among these is the tenet that abstinence until marriage must be taught as the "expected standard of human sexual activity." Only a few studies have evaluated their effectiveness, yielding mixed results, said an editorial published with the study.

Comprehensive programs, on the other hand, have been studied much more, wrote Dr. Douglas Kirby of ETR Associates in Scotts Valley, Calif. These investigations show that some comprehensive programs both delay sexual debut and increase the use of condoms and contraceptives. A nonprofit, ETR develops health materials, including pregnancy- and STD-prevention programs, for schools.

"Until we have strong evidence that particular abstinence-only programs are effective, we certainly should relax the funding restrictions and fund programs (including comprehensive programs) that effectively delay sex among young people," Kirby wrote.

The report, "Public Opinion on Sex Education in U.S. Schools," and the editorial, "Comprehensive Sex Education: Strong Public Support and Persuasive Evidence of Impact, but Little Funding," were published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (2006;160(11):1151-1156 and 1182-1184).



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