November 10, 2009
Comprehensive risk-reduction programs to prevent or reduce pregnancy, HIV, and other STDs have sufficient evidence of their efficacy, and such sex education programs can benefit public health, a non-federal panel of health experts concluded in a new report. However, a similar review for abstinence education interventions found insufficient evidence of their effectiveness, and their public health benefits or harms were difficult to ascertain, the 15-member Task Force on Community Preventive Services said.
The Task Force based its conclusions on systematic analyses conducted by a 19-member team of scientists assembled by CDC. The Task Force examined 83 study arms involving comprehensive risk-reduction programs and 23 study arms involving abstinence-only programs. Comprehensive programs typically teach abstinence as the "preferred" strategy but also identify a hierarchy of recommended behaviors to prevent or reduce pregnancy and HIV/STDs, including condom and contraceptive use, the report said. Abstinence-only programs promote abstinence and "mention condoms or other birth control methods only to highlight their failure rates if at all," the report said. All the programs were geared to people ages 10-19.
"At long last, evidence and common sense have returned to public health policy," said James Wagoner of Advocates for Youth. "The Task Force endorses the comprehensive approach to prevention that includes condoms and birth control. We should be spending taxpayer dollars only on evidence-based programs."
11.07.2009; Rob Stein