Newsday Examines Abstinence Education Funding Under Bush Administration, Programs’ Impact on HIV/AIDS
Long Island Newsday on Friday examined abstinence education funding under the Bush administration and its impact on domestic and international HIV/AIDS prevention programs and teen pregnancy rates in the United States. Abstinence-only education programs have become "lucrative and controversial" under President Bush, Newsday reports. The Bush administration in its fiscal year 2005 budget proposal requested $272 million for abstinence-until-marriage programs, nearly double the FY 2004 appropriation of $138 million. Although the federal government has allocated funding for abstinence-only education since 1981, Bush has made the programs a "major policy initiative, both here and abroad," according to Newsday. In addition, the "battle over abstinence-until-marriage programs is being played out against the emotional topic of sex education," Newsday reports. In the United States, 47% of high school students are sexually active and the teen pregnancy rate -- although falling -- remains the highest among developed nations. Under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, beginning in 2006, one-third of the funding for prevention programs must be used for abstinence-until-marriage efforts. Supporters of abstinence-only education see it as a way to prevent pregnancy, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases "in one package." However, critics say there is little evidence that the curricula are effective in reducing teen pregnancy or STD rates and might harm young people who become sexually active by not providing them with adequate information on contraceptives and disease prevention, Newsday reports. Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) has said he supports comprehensive sex education, which includes information about both abstinence and contraception, according to Newsday (Lane, Long Island Newsday, 10/22).
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