Friday, April 21, 2006

'Keeping Sex in the Fireplace'

Governor Mitt Romney announced yesterday (4/20/2006) that the state of Massachusetts will be giving nearly $1 million to an organization that teaches skills that are necessary to attain abstinence before marriage.

The organization under fire is called Healthy Futures and it is a federally funded health program that educates teens in the areas of sexuality, healthy relationships, and self-respect through medically accurate information and interactive skits and demonstrations.
There is speculation that Healthy Futures runs its curriculum based on religious values because it was found under
A Women's Concern. According to the Boston Globe story, “this agency is a pregnancy health service that lists its guiding principles on its website as the importance of the gospel, the sanctity of human life, and the soundness of sexual purity, marriage, and family.”
As a result of reviewing A Women's Concern's website, I did not find any principals based on the gospel in any way shape or form. On the contrary, the agency actually does not even recognize religion which is indicated in the following question and answer section under the 'sex' menu on the website:
Q: If you weren’t religious, why wouldn't you have sex before you're married? A: Regardless of their spiritual beliefs, the healthiest choice for anyone is to wait until they are in a faithful, lifelong relationship to have sex. Outside of that relationship, there are risks associated with sex, including STDs, unplanned pregnancy, and intense emotions that can make it hard when the relationship ends. Without a formal commitment like marriage, relationships have some level of insecurity because either person can leave at any time. Many people decide that these risks aren't worth it, and choose to wait.
Where are the religious connotations here? After searching the whole website I could not find a drop of evidence to support the gospel claim. Oh, you mean I read the article in the Boston Globe. Ooops, my fault for not knowing any better!!
If you want to talk about a program that teaches abstinence with the OPTION of a religious agenda then you should visit the Silver Ring Thing website. Now this program offers a religious viewpoint about sex and it also offers a non-religious viewpoint about sex. As a result of this abstinence program offering a religious background to its curriculum it cannot receive any federal funding.
Mindy Fried, whose daughter is a Boston Latin freshman had this to say:
''A Woman's Concern uses an abstinence-only until marriage Sex Ed curriculum. They're driven by a right-wing, Christian agenda, which to me is problematic. They talk about condom use being ineffective, so the curriculum is really misguiding kids. Most parents of course want their teenagers to delay sexual experiences, but that's not a reality. We need a curriculum that's broader than abstinence-only."
Here is my response to this:
Claim: "Using condoms will help prevent unwanted pregnancies and promote safe sex."
Response:
Medically this is not true. Condoms can reduce the risk of HIV but do little to reduce the risks of inhibiting the spread of STDs.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) evaluated the effectiveness of condoms on stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS in June 2000 and concluded that there was not enough evidence to determine that they were effective in reducing the risk of most other sexually transmitted diseases. 1 Some of the other findings of the panel were that:
  • If condoms were used 100% of the time, they can reduce sexually transmitted HIV infection in both sexes and the risk of gonorrhea in men by about 87%. 2 But even if a condom were used 100% of the time correctly there would still be a 13% chance of transmitting HIV or gonorrhea.
  • There is no conclusive evidence that condoms are effective in preventing STDs. 3
  • As Meg Meeker explains in her book Epidemic: How Teen Sex Is Killing Our Kids: "Every STD has its own characteristics, its individual personality. Gonorrhea behaves differently from chlamydia, which behaves differently from herpes and HIV. Some STDs are viruses, some are bacteria. Some live on skin, some in blood, some only in genital fluids. The amount of germs needed to cause an infection varies from one disease to another. Ways of transmitting the disease also vary. Some sexual practices put certain parts of the body in contact with other parts of the body in contact with other parts of a partner's body. But condoms don't protect against all forms of disease transmission. Condoms only prevent contact with some bodily fluids and only the skin of the genitals themselves." 4
  • HIV and gonorrhea are at crisis levels in Uganda, and the country has found that any person who always wears a condom during sex reduces his or her risk of getting gonorrhea by about 50%. 5 50% of the time persons wearing a condom "responsibly" contracted gonorrhea!
  • The latest studies show that "condoms have no impact on the risk of sexual transmission of human papilloma virus in women." 6 Telling females that condoms promotes "safe sex" can given them a false sense of security which could actually encourage more sex in the future and increase a girl's risk of exposure to HPV and perhaps cervical cancer in later child bearing years.
  • A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association in June 2001 on condoms and herpes found that "only the women's risk of getting herpes was reduced. Using condoms didn't help the men reduce their risk of getting the disease at all." 7
  • Studies evaluating the effects of condoms on chlamydia show that "they may or may not reduce the risk of chlamydia in men." 8 The NIH also concluded that the evidence is "inconclusive." In Uganda studies demonstrated a 50% reduction when men "always" wore condoms. 9
  • Studies exist which analyze the effect of condoms on Syphilis and show that condoms can reduce the risks but must be worn all the time. One study which evaluated how well condoms reduced the risks of getting syphilis was conducted on prostitutes. The study showed that the risk of contracting syphilis was reduced 50%. 10 A Ugandan study demonstrated the same 50% reduction. But these findings mean that 50% of those who wore condoms contracted syphilis.
  • Teenagers are less likely to use condoms the longer they are involved in a relationship. 11
  • Studies have also shown that the earlier a young girl becomes sexually active, the more likely she is to have a greater number of partners and reduce her insistence on condom use. 12
  • Very few teenagers use condoms consistently or correctly. 13 A study from Florida evaluated the effect of condoms on spreading the HIV infection. After 18 months, 17% of the previously uninfected partners were HIV positive.
  • Condoms don't provide 100% protection for the prevention of pregnancy. One study from the School of Medicine Family Planning Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania reported that 25% of patients using condoms as birth control conceived over a one year period. 14

Notes

1. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Workshop Summary : Scientific Evidence On Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention, July 20, 2001.

2. "Federal Panel on Condoms Offers Crucial Warning to Sexually Active Americans, Say the Medical Institute for Sexual Health.," NIH Condom Report Press Release, Media Advisories, Austin, Tex.:The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, July 19, 2001.

3. "Scientific Review Panel Confirms Condoms Are Effective Against HIV/AIDs, But Epidemiological Studies Are Insufficient for Other STDs." Press Release, H.H.S. News, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, July 2001.

4. Meg Meeker, M.D., Epidemic: How Teen sex is Killing Our Kids, Life Line Press, Washington D.C., 2002, page 107.

5. Saifuddin Ahmed et al., "HIV Incidence and Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevalence Associated With Condom Use: A Population Study in Rakai, Uganda." AIDS 15 (2001): 2171-2179.

6. "Federal Panel on Condoms Offers Crucial Warning to Sexually Active Americans, Say the Medical Institute for Sexual Health.," NIH Condom Report Press Release, Media Advisories, Austin, Tex.:The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, July 19, 2001.

7. A. Wald, A.G.M. Langenberg, K. Link, et al., "Effect of Condoms on Reducing the Transmission of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 from Men to Women." Journal of the American Medical Association 285 (2001): 3100-3106.

8. "Federal Panel on Condoms Offers Crucial Warning to Sexually Active Americans, Say the Medical Institute for Sexual Health.," NIH Condom Report Press Release, Media Advisories, Austin, Tex.:The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, July 19, 2001.

9. Saifuddin Ahmed et al., "HIV Incidence and Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevalence Associated With Condom Use: A Population Study in Rakai, Uganda." AIDS 15 (2001): 2171-2179.

10. Jared M. Baeten et al., "Hormonal Contraception and Risk of Sexually Transmitted Disease: Results from a Prospective Study." American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 183 (2001): 380-385.

11. L. Ku, F.L. Sonestein, and J. H. Pleck, "The Dynamics of Young Men's Condom Use During and Across Relationships." Family Planning Perscpectives. 26 (1994): 246-251.

12. Thomas J. Fitch, "How Effective Are Condoms in Preventing Pregnancies and STDs in Adolescents? Austin, Tex.: The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, July 1997.

13. G. Paz-Baily et al., "Condom Protection Against STD: A Study Among Adolescents Attending a Primary Care Clinic in Atlanta." Presented at the 2002 National STD Prevention Conference, San Diego, Calif., March 4-7, 2002. Abstract B9D.

14. Medical Institute for Sexual Health, P.O. Box 4919, Austin TX 78765.

10 Comments:

Blogger Tyler Dawbin said...

Hey there friend...I sponsor "A Woman's Concern" and they do a great job of helping women to make GOOD choices about their pregnancy. I also went on the Hike for Abstinence run by Healthy Futures last year. While AWC was founded by a Christian (Reverend John Ensor), and it is a primarily Christian organization, it does not impose the gospel on it's clients...but it does encourage them to do the right things in God's sight.

7:42 PM, April 21, 2006  
Blogger Christopher Robert said...

You have no idea how to read statistics. If the sources you used cited those claims. The chance of contracting an STD is not determined only by the effectiveness of a preventative measure, but the chances of getting the disease alone must be considered. An individual who only has sex with somebody with gonorrhea may have a 13% chance of contracting gonorrhea, if the rate of transmission was 100%. In reality, that rate itself is not one hundred percent. Exposure to an STD like HIV is not even 100%. Additionally, prevalencies in the populations must be considered. Gonorrhea was 2.5 people out of 100,000 in the US in 1997 (From a chastity website) Assuming this prevalency, the protection condom offers, 100% transmission upon exposure, the individual wears a comdom each time, and that the individual does not have sex with individuals who are at a higher risk for gonorrhea than the general population like prostitutes, then if an individual has sex with 1000 partners, his likelihood of contracting gonorrhea is only about 0.38%. Indeed, only about 2 and a half partners of his or her had gonorrhea in the first place. Then, the condom must have failed for him to contract it. Thats using bayesian combination. If he or she used no condom, then the likelihood with one thousand partners is 2.5 percent. Condoms made a drastic difference in the individual's likelihood in contracting gonorrhea from his or her 1000 partners.

The studies that you cite show that condoms make you safer, not immune from STDs. A few other great studies are:
- Crosby RA et al. (2003). The value of consistent condom use: a study of sexually transmitted disease prevention among African American adolescent females. American Journal of Public Health, 93, 901-902.

- Holmes KK, Levine R, Weaver M. (2004). Effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted infections. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 82, 454-464.

- Shlay JC et al. (2004). Comparison of sexually transmitted disease prevalence by reported level of condom use among patients attending an urban sexually transmitted disease clinic. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 31, 154-160.

A fifty percent reduction of 2 is 1. The reductions are based on general prevalencies in the community. I demonstrated a large statistical reduction

10:54 AM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger SCIA said...

Chris,
I am simply stating that there is evidence that condoms do not ALWAYS work. You’re stating that condoms DO work. That still does not refute the clear and cut fact that abstinence is the only way in preventing 100% of STDs. Simple!!

Of course, one can claim that adolescents will have sex regardless of what you teach them, but if one teaches the true values of waiting and keeping their children close to the word of God then one's child has a fighting chance of not contracting any diseases. No...it is not 100% I agree, but it is a lot better knowing a Christian promise was taken then worrying about what one's daughter is doing as you give them a condom as they walk out the door to go out with some "friends".

Please do not ask me to argue about my Christian faith. My blog is not intended to focus on any religion what so ever. My focus is about "Letting the People Vote". I will not respond to any questions about religion, as that is a personal issue to many and I do not wish to please or disrespect anyone on the topic.

9:04 PM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Christopher Robert said...

No one ever said that condoms prevent diseases in every case. Thats a fact that is taught in schools.

Religious discussion are valid because they are the basis of an argument against same sex marriage.

9:51 AM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger SCIA said...

Chris,

You said:

"Religious discussion are valid because they are the basis of an argument against same sex marriage."

No Chris, stripping the Commonwealth there right to vote is the basis of the argument.

If you know your facts, nothing religious was ever mentioned in the petition to protect the DEFINITION of marriage as between one man and one woman.

The referendum was signed in churches by parishioners simply because that is where the sacred institution of marriage begins.

Same-sex marriage is not about religion; it is not about homosexuality, heterosexuality or any other type of sexual orientation. It is about democracy. This is what the homosexual community is afraid of, the rights of the people. Isn’t that the same argument the homosexual community is pushing? Why does 'rights' have to be an issue for one group and not the other? Please Chris, give me an irrefutable answer to that question!!

3:10 PM, April 24, 2006  
Blogger Christopher Robert said...

Is the commonwelath fo massachusetts some country outside of the United States of America which is a federal republic? What part of federal republic gives you the right to majority rule?

11:37 PM, April 24, 2006  
Blogger Tyler Dawbin said...

Chris, I think that SCIA asked a good question about rights, and I would also love to hear your answer!

8:32 AM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger Christopher Robert said...

That was an answer Tyler. As much as you deny it, we do not live in a democracy for that fact that it protects minorities from persecution. Majority rule is incredible dangerous because individuals in a majority rule vote, but lose all moral responsibility in the application of their decisisons.

We have rights, defined in the bill of rights. These are not exhaustive rights, merely a guideline to be interpreted by the federal republic in which we live. Democracy is not our right. If it was, the United States would have been set up as a democracy. However, the united states is a federal republic. Perhaps though you are unaware of what a federal republic is.

It is a religious argument because the norms you are stating are based on a judeo-christian religions.

11:15 PM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger SCIA said...

Chris,

The United States government is a federal republic set up by a Constitution adopted in 1787 by a Constitutional Convention; The federal government consists of three branches--executive, legislative, and judicial--which operate according to a system of checks and balances against each other and checks on their power set forth in the Constitution to protect the individual.

Let’s go over the different branches that are under this federal republic:

· Executive: The White House; portal to US Executive branch including the Presidential Cabinet, Vice President, and Executive Office of the President; the President also serves as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces; the President is elected by votes of an electoral college
· Senate: US Senate; part of the bicameral US Congress; citizens from each US state elect two senators to represent their interests for a six-year term
· House: US House of Representatives; part of the bicameral US Congress; citizens from each US congressional district elect a person to represent their interests in the House for a two-year term
· Supreme Ct: The Supreme Court of the United States; consists of a Chief Justice and eight associate justices appointed by the President
· Federal Cts: Portal to US Courts; includes US Supreme Court, US Courts of Appeals, US District Courts, and US Bankruptcy Courts; federal judges are appointed by the President for life


Chris, you are for democracy because you are for a federal republic. They are both interchangeable. What kind of government are you trying to refute or defend?

You said:

“It is a religious argument because the norms you are stating are based on a Judeo-Christian religions.”

Yes, Judeo-Christian beliefs make up the federal republic/democracy that you are abiding by. What exactly is your argument?

8:28 AM, April 26, 2006  
Blogger jennifer said...

I wholly support abstinence programs in our schools ,and as an educator in a private institution I am blessed to be able to share with my students the REASONS (Biblical and otherwise) that they should practice purity until marriage.

This morning, however, my heart was broken as I listened to the Focus on the Family broadcast. The topic was purity among teens, and the stats were overwhelming. If I hadn't have been driving, I would have jotted down the numbers but I do remember the speaker saying that the number of 12-18 year olds having oral sex is 50% or more...and those stats are over 2 years old.

Apparently our culture fails to see oral sex as sex...and in some cases, oral sex is even referred to as CHRISTIAN sex among teens in youth groups. How sad it is that our culture has moved so far away from the purity guidelines that God established for our protection AND delight.

There are very few men OR women in our culture, even in our churches, who feel called to live out a life of sexual purity, be they married or single. It seems the question most ask is, "How far can I go without going too far?" That is the wrong question that they (including ME) should be asking. Instead our question should be, "How far can I go in giving my all--my body, my heart, my emotions, my ALL--to Jesus Christ for His glory and service?"

I think the answer to that question...if LIVED out would revolutionize our churches, and, in turn, our country.

I am not where I should be in my walk with my Lord; but, praise God, I am not where I was either. May His grace shine down on all of us...leading us to live AND love for Him all the days of our lives.

11:39 AM, April 26, 2006  

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