Evidence for

The supporters of abstinence programmes, such as The Heritage Foundation,1 have pointed to studies which have found that at least ten programmes have produced success, by some measures. However, in some cases this was more to do with changing teenagers’ attitudes towards abstinence than their actual behaviour.

The Heritage Foundation did find, among other things, a steeper decrease in the teenage pregnancy rate in Monroe County, New York, where an abstinence-only programme called ‘Not Me, Not Now’ had been operating, than in surrounding non-abstinence-only counties. It found that a programme in Little Rock, Arkansas, “reduced the sexual activity rate of girls from 10.2 to 5.9 per cent and from boys from 22.8 to 15.8 per cent.” And it found that 14-year-old boys who had not attended a programme in Georgia were three times as likely to have begun having sex by the end of eighth grade as boys who had attended it.

A study by Robert Lerner2 in Adolescent and Family Health evaluated the effectiveness of the ‘Best Friends’ abstinence education programme, a character-building programme for girls in the fifth or sixth grade (age 10 to 12). A companion programme for boys, ‘Best Men’, began in 2000. It found that students in it were significantly less likely than their peers to engage in high-risk behaviours.

Specifically, girls who participated in the Best Friends programme had:

  • A 52% reduction in the likelihood that they would smoke

  • A 90% reduction in the likelihood that they would use drugs

  • A 60% reduction in the likelihood that they would drink alcohol

  • An 80% reduction in the likelihood that they would have sex.

The study compared several years of data on girls from Washington, DC, who participated in the Best Friends programme with data on girls of the same age and city from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Using multiple logistic regressions, which controlled for grade, age, race and survey year, the study found a significant decrease in the incidence of high-risk behaviours among Best Friends girls as compared to YRBS girls.

References

  1. Rector Robert E The effectiveness of abstinence education programs in reducing sexual activity among youth. The Heritage Foundation backgrounder #1533, 2002
  2. Lerner R Can Abstinence Work? An Analysis of the Best Friends Program. Adolescent and Family Health. 3(4):185-192, 2004
This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap
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This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.