House Committee Approves Increases in Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding

On July 14 the House Appropriations Committee approved its Fiscal Year 2005 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) funding bill. The bill, approved the week prior by the committee's LHHS subcommittee, included an additional $35 million for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.

This $35 million increase, which would bring total FY05 funding for such programs to $173 million, is for the Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE, formerly known as SPRANS-CBAE) program. This program is the strictest of the federal government's three funding streams for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs (the Adolescent Family Life program is also included in this bill and funded at $13 million and a third funding stream, Title V, which comes through the welfare reform law, is funded at $50 million).

This represents a 25% increase over last year's funding despite the recommended .1% increase for domestic discretionary programs overall. Nonetheless, President Bush requested a doubling of funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs which would take funding to over $260 million per year.

During the full committee's consideration of this bill an amendment was offered by anti-choice Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) that would permit health care companies to exempt themselves from any federal, state, or local law that assures women access to abortion information and services. This amendment, similar to the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) passed by the House in 2002, passed despite a second amendment attempting to defeat it offered by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY).

The Title X family planning program, also included in the LHHS funding bill, provides primary health care as well as reproductive health care to millions of women. Title X was flat-funded at $278 million.

This bill is expected to be considered by the full House of Representatives in September, after the August recess. The Senate Committee on Appropriations has yet to consider its Labor, Health and Human Services and Education spending bill.

African-American Young Women Respond Positively to New HIV Prevention Program

The results of a recent study published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) indicate that an HIV-prevention program designed specifically for African-American young women took a successful approach.1

Roughly half of the participants in the study conducted by Ralph DeClimente and his colleagues at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health were placed in an intervention group, to which African-American peer educators "offered information on ethnic and gender pride, communication skills, HIV/AIDS, condom use and healthy relationships."2 The other half received instruction on nutrition and exercise for the same amount of time. The results showed teens in the intervention group were more likely to use condoms and "less likely to report a pregnancy or STD, or to indicate that they had a new sexual partner" than were young women in the control group, who received information on exercise and nutrition.3 The study was conducted over the course of nearly two-and-a-half years and involved a sample of 522 sexually active young women ages 14-18.4

News of this HIV-prevention program may prove significant in improving the quality of health among African-American young women. Among African-American women ages 25-34, HIV/AIDS was the number one cause of death in 2001, according to the CDC's National Vital Statistic Reports.5 According to the AIDS Research Institute, "economic disparities continue to exacerbate the health status of African-Americans."6

Commentators say that what is unique about this HIV-prevention program, and perhaps one of the keys to its success, is the emphasis on infusing ethnic and gender pride into the young women's identity. DeClimente and his colleagues concluded in their study, "interventions for African-American adolescent girls that are gender-tailored and culturally congruent can enhance HIV-preventive behaviors, skills, and mediators and may reduce pregnancy and Chlamydia infection."7

Another vital component of the HIV-prevention program in this study was the use of African-American peer educators to transmit the information to teens. In a recent study involving sexuality education strategies with adolescent females in Britain, researchers found that having a peer educator versus an adult teacher resulted in a decrease in both sexual intercourse and the likelihood of pregnancy among the teenage girls.7 It appears both African-American and British young women respond better to information on sexual health when it is presented by members of their peer group.

More information on the DiClemente, et al.'s study.

This update written by Sarah Vitorino, SIECUS Intern.

References

  1. R. DeClimente, et al., "Efficacy of an HIV Prevention Intervention for African American Adolescent Girls," Journal of American Medical Association, July 14, 2004. Available online.
  2. J. Price, "Black teen girls at very high risk for HIV infection," The Washington Times, July 11, 2004. Available online.
  3. J. Price
  4. R. DeClimente, et al.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Nation Vital Statistics System, National Vital Statistics Reports, Leading Causes of Death for 2000. Vol. 50, No. 16, September 2002.
  6. J. Peterson, et al. "What are African American's HIV prevention needs?" Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California San Franciso, September 1999. Available online.
  7. R. DeClimente, et al.
  8. Press Release, "Sex Education More Effective for Girls if Lessons Taught by Older Students, British Study Says," Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, July 26, 2004. Available online.

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