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Analysis Sexual Health

How We Can Beat Cervical Cancer

William Smith

In 2007, 12,280 women in the United States were told they had cervical cancer, and 4,021 died from the disease. Here’s the thing: cervical cancer is almost completely preventable.  This means that, given consistent and correct care, you will likely never be one of those 4,000 women who die of this preventable and treatable disease.

What I Didn’t Know About Sexual Health: Reflections From a New Perch

William Smith

We are losing the battle on sexually transmitted infections in the United States, a loss that will have grave implications for public health.  And in the first few months of my new job as executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, I've learned some things that will help us be more effective in this battle, if we take heed.

The Real Lesson From Health Care Reform

William Smith

We had a moment at the end of the summer where the Administration began to use moral language to muster support for its efforts, but that has passed. However, if we want healthcare for all, the moral argument needs to be front and center.

Sex Ed Lessons from Southern Neighbors

William Smith

A United Nations Economic and Social Council meeting concluded last week with unequivocal support for comprehensive sex education throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to help stem the HIV epidemic and promote overall health.

Pennsylvania’s Rendell Flip-Flopping on Ab-Only?

William Smith

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell may soon re-enroll the state in the federal Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program. This decision would represent the prioritizing of short term political gain over the long term health of Pennsylvania's young people.

Irish Mobilize Young Decision Makers

William Smith

Last week, the Irish Family Planning Association held that country's first ever Young Decision Makers' conference to scale up advocacy for sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Youth in Vietnam Ignored by PEPFAR

William Smith

The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. releases a report today on PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) policies and how they're affecting efforts in Vietnam.

Postcard from Down Under

William Smith

The 1st World Congress for Sexual Health was held in Australia last week, with a name change and an expanded mission that has public policy and advocacy at its heart.

The Right Wing on Mathematica’s Reports

William Smith

William Smith is Vice President for Public Policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.


I remember being with several colleagues in 2002 preparing for a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives. About ten minutes before the hearing was supposed to start, a knock at the door of a small office in which we had huddled brought an interim report from Mathematica Policy Research. Mathematica had been funded by the federal government to conduct an entirely voluntary evaluation of programs receiving funding under Title V. The hearing was centered on the reauthorization of the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program which delivers $50 million in federal funds each year to states. Of course, we thought the timing was highly suspect to say the least, but this interim report (PDF) said nothing of import. It reported out on a great deal of process but included no data whatsoever on behavioral impacts.

Spring Awakening: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights on Broadway

William Smith

William Smith is Vice President for Public Policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

[img_assist|nid=166|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=75]This is a weird blog for me. I usually indulge in the policy wonkiness that folks like me thrive on here in Washington, DC. And while I love the work I get to do on sexual and reproductive health and rights, the theatre has become another of my great loves. My partner opened up this world for me as he is an award winning local actor and musical theatre performer in Washington. We also indulge in frequent New York weekends that are a volleyball match between theaters and restaurants followed by much needed sleep on Amtrak on the trip back home.

Our most recent trip to New York was memorable as work and private life melded into enjoying what critics have hailed as the best new musical to hit Broadway in a long time. For me, I can explain it best as sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) on Broadway, and in particular, the most forthright and unapologetic defense of adolescent sexual health and rights I've ever seen as a form of entertainment.

[img_assist|nid=2455|title=Watch the video!|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=640|height=529]

 

GAO Blasts Ab-Only For A Second Time in a Month

William Smith

William Smith is Vice President for Public Policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

Things this week at Bush’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have once again exceeded the bounds of credibility. Early in the week, news came that prominent abstinence-only-until-marriage promoter Patricia Sulak had been asked to join the CDC’s Advisory Committee on HIV and STD Prevention. Sulak’s silly and self-congratulatory presentation at this year’s national STD conference, which can be heard here, should have been more than enough to disqualify her from the advisory committee.

The Garden State Rejects Abstinence-Only Funding

William Smith

William Smith is Vice President for Public Policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

Last week New Jersey became the fourth state to pull itself out of the federal scheme to distribute abstinence-only-until-marriage money. New Jersey, like Maine and California before it, decided that in addition to never having been proven effective as a broad strategy, the federal abstinence-only-until-marriage programs ran contrary to its own state's laws regarding sexuality education. If the state chose to accept the nearly $1 million of federal funds it was entitled to, it would not only have had to follow strict federal rules, it would also have had come up with a match of three state-raised dollars to every federal dollar. New Jersey's decision was therefore not just principled, but fiscally responsible as well.

US Conference on AIDS Overlooked and Divided

William Smith

William Smith is Vice President for Public Policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

The US Conference on AIDS (USCA) wrapped up this week on the sun-drenched Southern Florida coast with nary a mention in the press or elsewhere. This is a far cry from the extensive coverage of the "Bill and Bill" show at the international meeting in Toronto in August. There, news coverage documented the re-emergence of prevention and the global push-back against U.S. dogmatism on key issues like abstinence-until-marriage programs, the lack of support for condoms and the prostitution pledge. In Florida, the conversation could not have been more different.

A Turning Point in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

William Smith

William Smith is Vice President for Public Policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

For advocates of evidence-based prevention, the International AIDS Conference in Toronto is likely to be remembered as a turning point in our efforts to eradicate HIV/AIDS. From the high-profile attention given to efforts such as microbicides, pre-exposure prophylaxis, male circumcision and harm reduction, prevention has come back to the fore and taken a seat alongside care and treatment, restoring the necessary balance to the global effort. Perhaps most interesting however, has been the repudiation at this conference of the lop-sided prevention efforts that have been focused on abstinence and marriage promotion.

Bush’s AIDS Council: Texas Two-Step Only Qualification

William Smith

William Smith is Vice President for Public Policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

It comes as no surprise to readers of this site that the Bush Administration puts a very low value on public health. Did you know, for example, that Surgeon General Carmona’s term expired last week? Carmona who? Exactly.

An equally opaque announcement came last week with the appointment of seven new members to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). Created under the Clinton Administration, there was a time when these spots were coveted and coveted because PACHA once reflected the national face of AIDS. Now, however, PACHA reflects Texas, and the hypermoralism that has come to characterize every social issue on President Bush’s agenda.

Public Health Being Gagged, Hog-tied and Tossed in a Trunk

William Smith

The current Administration has given us more than enough cause for concern that they consider science to be simply another opinion. From global warming to emergency contraception, the views of those who know best have been tossed aside to placate the warped and self-serving appetites of constituencies that wield power, money, and votes. In fact, in Washington these days, public health doesn’t just take a back seat to this reality—it is gagged, hog tied, and tossed in the trunk. Think about promoting marriage as a means of HIV prevention in places where marriage is actually a risk factor for acquiring HIV and you’ll understand the mindset. Don’t try to be reasoned and logical, just go with it….

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