By Dr. Charles Jaynes and Margery Engel Loeb
A year ago, Governor Rick Perry showed great leadership when he issued an executive order requiring the state's sixth grade girls to get the HPV vaccine, to prevent cervical cancer. It was a bold move for a state that is conflicted about how best to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
But, if Gov. Perry truly wants to stop the spread of STDs, he will change the state's policy that allows teaching abstinence-only sex education. Recent studies have revealed that an abstinence-only plan won't stop the spread of STDs or decrease the rates of teen pregnancy.
Texas teenagers lead the nation in birth rates, and, as new figures from the National Center for Health Statistics show, after 14 years of steady decline, teen pregnancy rates went up 3 percent across the country in 2006. To many public health officials and educators, the cause for the increases in pregnancy was apparent: since 1996 the only federal funding available to states for sex education is for "abstinence-only" curricula.
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