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New Sex Education Funding Ends Decade of Abstinence-Only

October 6, 2010

As part of its new five-year, $375 million Health and Human Services (HHS) grant, the federal government, for the first time in more than a decade, is funding sex education programs that go beyond the abstinence-only approach.

Beginning this year, the grants are being divided among 28 programs that have been proven to demonstrate lower pregnancy rates among participants, following evaluations by the independent Mathematica Policy Research. To qualify, programs had to be supported by at least one study showing a positive, statistically significant effect on one of the following: sexual activity, contraceptive use, STDs, pregnancy or births.

Many HHS programs distribute condoms, but about half take an "above the waist" approach -- giving kids the tools they need to help them succeed in school and make better life decisions, particularly about sex.

"There's a growing realization that we have to talk to young people about relationships. It's not just body parts," said Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. "It's saying, 'What are your goals?' and helping young people understand what they need to do to get there."

Abstinence programs will continue to receive $50 million annually through a federal grant that requires states to match $3 for every $4; so far, about 30 states have applied for that money. The new HHS programs do not require states to provide matching funds.

Less than 15 percent of the nine-month, HHS-approved Teen Outreach Program curriculum is spent addressing sex education, despite that being its chief goal. TOP encourages teens to identify a need in their community and spend at least 20 hours working on it, developing problem-solving and leadership skills. Participants have a 53 percent lower risk of pregnancy and a 60 percent lower risk of school course failure.

Back to other news for October 2010

Adapted from:
Associated Press
10.01.2010; Kelli Kennedy

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
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10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
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