Montana: Media Campaign Encourages Abstinence
April 12, 2004
The Montana Abstinence Partnership (MAP) and the Governor's Council on Families recently launched a statewide media campaign that encourages 12- to 18-year-olds to remain sexually abstinent until marriage, said Jon Berg, MAP's coordinator. The $50,000 media campaign, "Abstinence 'til Marriage -- the Smart Choice," is funded with a grant from the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and features billboards, posters and TV, radio and theater advertisements.
From its annual $176,000 HHS grant, MAP has given $95,000 to 12 organizations in 11 Montana cities to develop abstinence programs, workshops and additional education activities in 2004.
Berg said MAP does fund some programs that discuss contraceptive use, but only their failure rates. "We're encouraging kids to make healthy choices and not put themselves at risk," he said, acknowledging that abstinence-only programs do not persuade all teens. "You aren't going to convince everybody, but we certainly want to set the standard high," Berg added.
According to the 2003 Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 30 percent of high school students and 9 percent of middle school students in the state are sexually active. Abstinence-only programs work to help these teens understand all the complications of a sexually active lifestyle, not just STDs and unwanted pregnancy, said Berg.
Students need to have as much information as possible in sex education, said Laurie Kops, STD program manager for the Montana Department of Public Health (MDPH). Data released by MDPH reported an increase in the total number of chlamydia cases in 2003 to 2,521, up 20 cases from 2002. Kops attributes the rising numbers of STDs to more people having unprotected sex at a younger age. She said the state recently posted its first syphilis case in five years.
A MAP survey of 400 students taken after a similar abstinence media campaign in 2002 found that of 89 percent of teens who reported seeing the ads, 66 percent said the TV ads were effective in delivering the message, while just 28 percent of respondents thought the billboards were effective.
04.08.04; Diego Bejarano
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.