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Abstinence-Only Harms HIV Prevention
Abstinence-Until-Marriage Earmark Undermines HIV/AIDS Prevention Efforts; Restriction Merits Congressional Investigation; Planned Parenthood Applauds Shays' Efforts
(September 6, 2006) New York, NY — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) commends Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) for his strong, nonpartisan leadership in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. Today a congressional hearing called by Rep. Shays will investigate the impact of HIV prevention efforts through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) — and in particular, its destructive and self-defeating requirement that at least one-third of all HIV prevention funds be used to support abstinence-until-marriage programs.
"There is no valid rationale for this zealous focus on abstinence-until-marriage programs. And with so many lives — young lives — at stake around the world, there is no room for politics to get in the way of good medicine. What we need is a comprehensive approach," said Cecile Richards, PPFA president. "The ABC programs of abstinence, be faithful and use condoms have a proven track record ,and we should support those efforts."
In April, the General Accounting Office found that the ideologically driven and arbitrary earmark has impeded the ability of experts on the ground to allocate funds to a range of other proven interventions, such as medically accurate, comprehensive sex education and condom use. Condoms are the most effective weapon available to sexually active individuals and couples who want to protect themselves from HIV.
Rep. Shays has long worked to ensure that U.S. policies protect and promote the health and lives of people everywhere. In January, he traveled to Tanzania and Uganda — countries that receive significant PEPFAR funding — with members of Planned Parenthood Global Partners® and Planned Parenthood of Connecticut to better understand the impact of the abstinence-until-marriage earmark and other U.S. laws and policies related to international family planning. More recently, he has supported the Protection Against Transmission of HIV for Women and Youth Act of 2006, which calls for a repeal of PEPFAR’s abstinence-until-marriage earmark.