Just Say No to AIDS

Article excerpt

* Esther Kaplan writes: December wasn't a good month for abstinence education. Representative Henry Waxman came out with a report documenting that federally funded abstinence-only curriculums were littered with absurd falsehoods--that sweat can transmit HIV, for example. Then new data from the National Center for Health Statistics showed that the number of sexually active women skipping birth control had jumped by 42 percent, a spike that some experts say could be fallout from the abstinence-only program's ban on mentioning contraceptives--unless to exaggerate their failure rates. But George W. Bush's faith remains unshaken. He picked longtime abstinence advocate Anita Smith as the new co-chair of his AIDS advisory council and elevated Deputy Health Secretary Claude Allen, known as the abstinence enforcer within HHS, to the post of domestic policy adviser. Smith and her husband have run a string of AIDS organizations that teach "risk avoidance." According to former CDC official Margaret Scarlett, Americans for a Sound AIDS Policy, under the Smiths' leadership, even refused to distribute condom information in the early 1990s, when it was required to do so by a federal prevention grant. …