Nebraska Board of Education Rejects HIV/AIDS Prevention Program That Includes Condom Information
An HIV/AIDS prevention program for Nebraska's high school students is "in limbo" after the state Board of Education on Friday voted 4-4 on a policy that allows schools to "stress abstinence" as a way to prevent HIV/AIDS, but that also includes information about condoms, the Omaha World-Herald reports. A "sticking point" for some board members was whether students should be educated about condom use. Board member Kathy Wilmot said such information "go[es] against board policy that requires an abstinence approach when offering sex education programs" (Matczak, Omaha World-Herald, 4/7). A 1997 state sex education measure requires that all sex ed programs funded by state or federal coffers stress abstinence, and not discuss other prevention methods, such as condoms. (Parker, Lincoln Journal Star, 4/6). The program in question is sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Education through a federal grant and does not "directly affect what school districts teach students." Although program materials do include information about condoms, local school boards choose which information to present to students. The National Association of State Boards of Education recommends that HIV prevention programs teach abstinence as the "most reliable protection" against HIV but also recommends that information on condom use be provided in "every" HIV-prevention class. Friday's decision not to allow education about condoms followed testimony from a panel of five experts and members of the public. According to Nebraska Education Commissioner Doug Christensen, Friday's vote represents a "stalemate" and "puts the program in limbo" (Omaha World-Herald, 4/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.