Abstinence-Only Sex Education Programs Are Ineffective at Preventing STDs, Unplanned Pregnancies, Letter to Editor Says
A Washington Times article "completely misrepresented the Harris Poll it cited concerning views on abstinence programs," Center for Health and Gender Equity Executive Director Jodi Jacobson writes in a Times letter to the editor (Jacobson, Washington Times, 1/26). The poll of 1,961 U.S. adults in December 2005 finds that a majority of the people surveyed do not believe that abstinence programs are effective in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS or unplanned pregnancy. The survey also finds that younger participants responded more favorably toward abstinence education than those in older age groups (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 1/24). According to Jacobson, the Times article asserted the Harris Poll "suggested wide spread support for abstinence-only programs," but survey questions "referred to 'programs to promote abstinence from sex before marriage' -- not to abstinence-only education programs." Jacobson also writes that studies cited by the Times "deal only with perceived effectiveness rather than measured effectiveness of abstinence-only programs," adding, "The reality of abstinence-only programs is that they leave people at risk of infection and unintended pregnancy" (Washington Times, 1/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.