In Honor of Women & Girls’ HIV Awareness Day: Girls Have a Right to Know About HIV Prevention
New York, NY (March 10, 2009) – Schools 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 short-sighted.
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.
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.