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Teen Health 411

Abstinence-Only Programs Do Not Reduce Risk

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Another study, "Sexual Abstinence-Only Programs to Prevent HIV Infection in High-Income Countries: Systematic Review," was published in the British Medical Journal and included data from 13 trials involving almost 16,000 youth. The results from researchers at the University of Oxford mirror many other studies suggesting that abstinence-only programs are not an effective way of preventing HIV infection.

Dr. Kristen Underhill and her colleagues found that compared to no program and safer sex programs, abstinence-only programs did not influence the rate of unprotected vaginal sex, condom use, the number of sexual partners, or the timing of first sexual intercourse. In fact, data from one of the trials suggested abstinence-only programs were associated with a rise in sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. On the other hand, programs that promoted condom use, especially those that were tailored to address high-risk behavior, did reduce the risk of acquiring HIV.

Photo Credit: Viewoftheworld

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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