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Sen. Coburn Revives Tradition of STD Lecture for Young Congressional Staff Members

May 27, 2005

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Thursday held a lecture on sexually transmitted diseases for young congressional staff members and interns, a tradition that he began while serving as a representative in the House for six years, the Washington Times reports (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 5/27). During the hourlong presentation, Coburn, a physician, discussed the prevalence of STDs and said the best way to prevent infection is to abstain from "risky sexual activities," including premarital sex, according to Knight Ridder/Miami Herald (Barnett, Knight Ridder/Miami Herald, 5/27). Coburn also advised against having multiple sexual partners and encouraged condom use as a prevention method (Washington Times, 5/27). "Condoms make a difference," Coburn said, adding that they are effective in preventing the spread of STDs, including HIV and gonorrhea. Although Coburn's lecture showed images of the "ravages" of STDs, he said that he does not give the presentation for "shock value" but to provide medical facts to young people, the Times reports. "They don't get enough information," Coburn said, adding that most new STD cases occur among people under age 25. Although some advocates of comprehensive sex education "applauded" Coburn's advice on condoms, they also said that he used "scare tactics" and "questionable data" during the presentation, according to the Times (Washington Times, 5/27). "His unwitting patients should get a second opinion," Bill Smith, vice president for public policy for the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, said (Rosin, Washington Post, 5/27).

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