Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sex education programs that advise students to delay sexual activity while also offering instruction on ways to avoid unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections effectively reduce risky sexual behavior, increase condom use and decrease spread of STIs, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-commissioned report released on Friday, the Washington Post reports. The report said there is insufficient evidence to determine whether programs that focus on abstinence until marriage reduce the chance adolescents will engage in risky sexual behavior, become pregnant or contract an STI.

The report was authored by a 19-member expert panel assembled by CDC to examine the efficacy of various sex education programs. For the report, the panel reviewed an analysis of 83 studies on sex education programs from 1980 through 2007. The findings come as Congress considers whether to approve President Obama's request to redirect federal funding from abstinence-only sex education to programs that have been validated by scientific research.

CDC's Randy Elder -- who works with the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, an independent 15-member panel that issues public health recommendations -- said the study found "sufficient evidence that comprehensive risk reduction efforts are effective." However, "after a similar look, the task force determined that based on a number of problems with the studies presented to them there was insufficient evidence" to determine the efficacy of abstinence-only programs, Elder said.


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