WASHINGTON - November 28 - As the global community marks World AIDS Day on December 1, 2007, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), the nation’s leading reproductive health care advocate and provider, called on Congress to halt funding for harmful abstinence-only programs that deny teenagers lifesaving information about preventing infections like HIV/AIDS.
“World AIDS Day reminds us that prevention and education are the keys to building strong, healthy families,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “HIV/AIDS is a devastating but largely preventable infection. Every 12-and-a-half seconds, someone is infected with HIV. We need to be doing everything we can to increase access to information and to condoms to help protect our families.”
According to the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS, there are approximately 33.2 million people living with HIV worldwide. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there are more than one million people living with HIV in the United States. According to a new study released on Monday, HIV has reached epidemic proportions among Washington, DC, residents, largely affecting the African-American community. Between 2001 and 2006, more than 80 percent of new HIV cases were among African-American women, men and adolescents.
“Congress only needs to look in its backyard to see the devastating impact that HIV and AIDS are having on our communities. Washington, DC, has the highest AIDS rate of any city in the country and the infection rates show no signs of slowing,” added Richards. “The best way to help young people protect themselves is by promoting, and educating women, men and teens on, correct and consistent condom usage. Congress needs to stop funding ineffective abstinence-only programs and start putting teens and parents first by funding comprehensive sex education programs that include medically accurate messages about prevention and abstinence.”
While Congress continues to fund abstinence-only programs, Planned Parenthood has urged states to reject these federal funds. As a result, governors across America, from Montana to Massachusetts, have rejected funding for abstinence-only programs, citing several reports that have found these programs to be ineffective at changing teens’ sexual behavior, including a federally funded April 2007 study by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. Virginia recently became the 14th state to reject the funding.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America provides five million women, men and teens worldwide with health care services, information and education each year. In addition to PPFA's prevention work in communities across America, the organization's international programs expand access to comprehensive reproductive health services and HIV-prevention programs throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Planned Parenthood works to train increasing numbers of health care partners to provide HIV/AIDS counseling and testing.