across the country routinely fail to provide girls and young women with
comprehensive sexuality education – the cornerstone to HIV awareness
and prevention. Meanwhile, young people between the ages of 13 and 29
accounted for 34% of new HIV infections in 2006. As the Appropriations
Act awaits Senate approval, and as President Obama crafts the details
of his budget, the United States must change course and ensure that HIV
awareness and prevention begins with comprehensive sexuality education
for our young people.
"We are at a critical moment
where the President and Congress have the opportunity to end
ineffective and inaccurate abstinence-only-until-marriage programs,"
says Tracy Welsh, Executive Director at HIV Law Project. President
Obama has stated support for comprehensive sexuality education. House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that she would redirect abstinence-only
funds toward sexuality education. Yet, it appears that neither the
President nor Congress is taking affirmative steps to educate our youth
about HIV prevention.
The Omnibus Appropriations Act of
2009, passed by the House of Representatives on February 25, 2009
maintains over $94.6 million in federal funding for abstinence-only
programs for the remainder of the fiscal year. As well, President
Obama’s recently released budget does not directly mention
comprehensive sexuality education. Privileging
the abstinence-only agenda, while denying young people information that
directly impacts their health and welfare, is irresponsible and
HIV Law Project calls on President Obama to specifically fund accurate and appropriate comprehensive sexuality education for all
students. "Prevention programming must include comprehensive sex
education that teaches young people how to prevent HIV transmission.
If we miss this opportunity, we will fail our young people now and for
generations to come," says Ms. Welsh.
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HIV Law Project believes that all people deserve the same rights,
including the right to live with dignity and respect, the right to be
treated as equal members of society, and the right to have their basic
human needs fulfilled. These fundamental rights are elusive for many
people living with HIV/AIDS. Through innovative legal services and
advocacy programs, HIV Law Project fights for the rights of the most
underserved people living with HIV/AIDS.
HIV Law Project’s Center for Women & HIV Advocacy is fighting for comprehensive sexuality education for students in New York and throughout the country.