Thursday, August 7, 2008

Title V Rejected in Kentucky Due to Failure to Decrease Birth, STI Rate Among Teens


Title V funding has been dropping dramatically nationwide in the last few months. As of today, 23 states no longer participate or receive Title V funds, and two more states are opting out of Title V funds at the end of the fiscal year. That means half of the states nationwide are refusing Title V funds and are searching for alternative solutions to fix the growing pregnancy and STI rate specifically among teenagers.

The Title V Abstinence Education Program, authorized by Congress in 1996, gives money to states in the form of block grants to promote abstinence until marriage. Many states still receiving Title V funds are mostly in the South where the politics are predominantly conservative and are not inclined to support comprehensive sex education.

(SIECUS) The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States discovered that the state of Kentucky has one of the worst fear-based, abstinence-only approaches to sex education in the country. Since abstinence-only programs do not discuss the importance and methods of safe sex, students are not exposed to information about birth control. In 2007, sexually active high school students in Kentucky reported using condoms the last time they had sexual intercourse less often than teens nationwide

The effectiveness of neglecting to talk about how to protect oneself during sex speaks for itself with Kentucky’s birth rate among young women (15-19) at 49.2 per 1,000—a full 19 percent higher than the national average of 41.1 per 1,000 young women. Kentucky’s abstinence-only approach has also failed to decrease the number of HIV infections, specifically among African Americans. While they make up only 7% of the state’s population, 34% of new HIV cases are in African Americans.

In addition, $3,070,315 is being invested into local Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) and clinics in Kentucky yearly. RH Reality Check stresses the fact that federal funds are being given to places such as CPCs, which often provide women with false and misleading information in hopes of furthering their personal agenda against a woman’s right to choose.

While so many anti-choice people favor pushing politics over providing valuable assistance, many young women and men in the state of Kentucky are suffering because they cannot get the information they need to potentially protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies and STIs.

With numbers showing that teen pregnancy and STI rates are not decreasing, now is the time for Kentucky to research and invest its time looking for more effective and comprehensive sex education programs. Leaving sex education in the hands of those who believe abstinence-only is the best policy is certainly not the best for the young women and men of Kentucky.

Unfortunately, Maryland is still one of the states agreeing to receive Title V. One has to wonder how long Maryland will be able to lay claim to being a "Progressive" state when it is being surpassed by historically much more conservative states like Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia. Maryland legislators need to wake up and stop wasting our tax dollars on ineffective policies based on idealogical rhetoric as opposed to scientifically sound evidence.

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