Monday, December 29, 2008

Purity or abstinence pledges don't necessarily reduce unwanted prengnancy or STD's

Janet E. Rosenbaum, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has a report appearing in the January 2009 issue of Pediatrics (not yet online), regarding the effectiveness of abstinence pledges for teenagers. According to Rosenbaum, teenagers (either gender) who promise abstinence until (heterosexual) marriage are as likely to engage in premarital sexual activity as those who don’t, and may not be as likely use condoms when they do, increasing the risk of unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases including, sometimes, even HIV.

At the Tuesday Oct. 28 2008 session of the American Public Health Association (“Public Health Without Borders”, the 136th APHA Meeting) in San Diego CA, Rosenbaum presented similar findings, link here.

The Washington Post has a story Monday Dec. 29 by Rob Stein “Premarital abstinence pledges ineffective, study finds,” link here. The report includes pictures of purity rings. The Jonas Brothers attracted attention by wearing purity rings and announcing this to the media.

Rosenbaum says she refined the study so that she used narrowly defined cohorts and didn’t compare “apples to oranges”.

The Bush Administration has tried to push federal funds for abstinence only education. I’ve always wondered if an anti-gay message is and intended subtext of such education (as an implication of “until marriage”).

I also recall an episode of TheWB’s “Seventh Heaven” where Reverend Camden says “Sex is only for married people.” The debate over abstinence seems to extend beyond preventing unwanted pregnancy and STD’s to making the institution of marriage appear stronger by creating the (fantastic and false) belief that it can monopolize all sexuality.

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