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Limited Horizons

Limited Horizons
By: Janice Shaw Crouse - 6/7/2007

The Population Council the group that previously brought us “studies” providing “support” that led to approval of the abortion pill RU-486 has turned its attention in recent months to a “Horizons” project that “evaluated” abstinence education in three nations: Mexico, South Africa and Thailand. The seminar, scheduled for April 14, will explore the definition of abstinence and evaluate both international and U.S. abstinence programs.

Ironically, the Population Council’s own sex education programs ignore abstinence as an option, focusing instead on condoms and contraceptives. Ironically, also, the focus nations are not known for stellar abstinence programs.

Nations like Uganda, Zambia, Senegal and the Philippines, however, are internationally recognized for their abstinence programs, have emphasized abstinence in preventing HIV, and credit such efforts for reducing their rates of HIV infection. These nations were not studied in the “research” project.

The double discrepancies have not escaped the attention of Congress.

In October 2002, 10 members of Congress wrote the Population Council to express concern that the group’s sex education programs ignore abstinence to focus exclusively on condoms and contraceptives. Earlier this month, the Congressional Committee on Government Reform sent a letter asking about the April 14 seminar, which will reveal the Population Council’s measurement of abstinence programs. The letter also reminded Horizons personnel that the Population Council’s research is funded by U.S. government agencies that have official policies mandating an “Abc” approach (Abstinence first, then be faithful and use condoms only when abstinence and fidelity are rejected or impossible).

The letter from the Committee on Government Reform asks for further information about government-sponsored abstinence programs in South Africa, which are unknown to the Committee. Indeed, the official HIV-prevention program Love Life is based on “safer sex” approaches.

Here is information about the upcoming seminar:

Insight and Action Seminar

What is Abstinence and How Do You Measure It?

Lessons from the Field

Dr. Ann McCauley

ICRW/HORIZONS Program

April 14, 2004

12:30 2:00 p.m.

Brown bag lunch

Dessert and beverage provided

1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Lower Level Conference Room

RSVP by close of business April 12

Pam Blyther: 202-797-0007 ext. 114 or pblyther@icrw.org

The Population Council described the program this way:

The promotion of sexual abstinence among young people is now a key component of U.S. policy on global AIDS prevention. There are a number of issues to be considered in implementing the policy. What does the word “abstinence” mean and why are there different definitions? What makes for an effective message? In assessing impact, how can the effect of abstinence messages be isolated from other factors? This seminar will draw on a forthcoming HORIZONS report, which pulls together lessons from several sources on designing and measuring the abstinence component of international HIV prevention programs. The seminar will provide lessons from the Horizons Program studies on measurement of abstinence components of programs for adolescents in Mexico, South Africa and Thailand. It will also look at other evaluations of international programs for adolescents, and the experience of those who have been evaluating adolescent programs in the United States.

I will attend the seminar. Watch for my upcoming report.

Dr. Janice Crouse is senior fellow for the Beverly LaHaye Institute.

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