A Senate Appropriations Subcommittee has cut next year’s budget for controversial programmes that teach abstinence as the only way to practice safe sex.
The programmes have been found to routinely teach medically inaccurate information about contraception and HIV/AIDS and mandate teaching that sex outside of a heterosexual marriage “is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.”
In April 2007, the Department of Health and Human Services released a federally funded report conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. that found that these programmes have no impact.
Youth who participated in them showed no difference in either the age they first had sex or in the number of partners from those who had not participated in an abstinence-only until marriage programmes.
“We applaud Chairman Harkin and the Subcommittee for listening to the overwhelming evidence that these programs are ineffective and based on narrow right wing ideology,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
“We urge the Senate to maintain these funding cuts for abstinence education and instead fund HIV prevention based on science and proven effectiveness.”
The Senate committee also provides $31 million in additional funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, including $25 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance Programme.
“The additional funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, while welcomed, unfortunately does not make up for the years of neglect these programmes have been forced to endure over the past many years,” continued Solmonese.
“HIV/AIDS remains a crisis in our nation, especially among communities of colour.
“Although this is an important first step in turning around the pattern of funding cuts, we urge the Senate to consider providing an additional increase for Ryan White so that those on the front lines of the epidemic can meet the significant need for lifesaving services.”
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organisation working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.