I teach “Abstinence Only” and NFP, which are very
healthy for individuals and for the broader society.
Perhaps you could explain the social costs to the
nation due to “Comprehensive Sex Ed” classes and
– Sandy Pickert
Recently I attended a PowerPoint presentation on Sexually
Transmitted Diseases and Abstinence in the 21st Century,
that was given by the public health officer and medical
director of Sedgwick County, KS. It provides good answers to
What have we learned in public health about STDs?
o 65 million Americans live with a STD
o 15 million new STD cases per year
o $17 billion per year in USA in public/private costs
o The Sexual Revolution is over, but not for everybody
o Antibiotic resistance by STD bacteria and viruses is
o Costs for treatment have increased and will continue to
o Non-financial costs (death, infertility) will likely
o No consensus exists about public health control of STDs
Conflicting views of sexual behavior and public policy
exist. One view is that sex should be a process of risk-free
recreation, personal growth and discovery. This group holds
that adolescents should be able to make sexual behavior and
future choices without being limited in any way by disease
or unintended pregnancy.
The other view is held by NFP providers, like the American
Academy of Fertility Care Providers, the Medical Institute
for Sexual Health and Abstinence Only Programs. This view of
sex sees it in terms of personal responsibility and
character, to be chosen in reciprocal monogamous
The Catholic sexual ethic calls for total abstinence before
marriage, and total fidelity within marriage remaining open
to the gift of life.
There are 35 types of STDs today that are widespread
throughout the population. We shall focus only on HIV/AIDS
in the USA.
o 497,000 persons live with HIV (2005).
o Over 1 Million persons have died in USA since 1980.
o Primarily a disease of high-risk sexual activity.
o Vaccines have been tried – but none have been successful.
o HIV strains rapidly develop resistance to anti-viral
o Average cost per HIV patient a year is $30,000.
o Tens of billions of dollars have been spent on treatment
of AIDS victims in the US.
The solution to AIDS and STDs endorsed by public health
policy is “Comprehensive Sex Education” which was first
funded in the 1980s. HIV Prevention Programs receive major
funding ($817 Million in 2006) and emphasize condoms. They
do not endorse limits on the number of sexual partners, or
sexual preference. To date, there is no efficacy or
effectiveness shown as a result of these programs.
Abstinence Only programs and NFP are different. They offer a
solution that creates a reliable, mutually monogamous
relationship. They are conceivably 100% effective in
preventing HIV/AIDS and STDs. These programs are very
inexpensive, but like all community-based projects difficult
to evaluate. Early researchers, who tried to evaluate them
as brief, isolated, stand-alone interventions without
considering the complex forces that shape sexual behavior,
concluded they were ineffective. But increasing evidence
points to their high level of effectiveness. Community Based
Abstinence Programs received only $87 Million in 2007. They
build character and strong marriages. NFP can be used to
either have or to avoid pregnancy.
In conclusion, the STD problems remain. There are
disagreements in public policy over models of sexuality.
There are fights over money: CBAE for abstinence only
programs ($87M) vs. Comprehensive Sex Ed Courses for HIV
prevention ($817M). There are rising Health Care Costs ($2
Trillion direct health care costs, or $6,697 per person in
All of this indicates that American taxpayers should take a
hard look at the sexual health of the country, and how their
tax dollars are being spent to prevent the spread of STDs,
and most especially the spread of AIDS. At the present time,
Congress is uncertain about the future funding of CBAE
abstinence only programs.
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB
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