Speaking of Sex

In addition to its very, very complete coverage this morning of Eliot Spitzer's downfall, the NYTimes carried what I considera relatedreport: 25 percent of U.S. teenaged girls have one or more sexually transmitted disease.In addition to an account of the CDC's report, the Times deployed its usual public health analysis of the problem, quoting head of Planned Parenthood thus: 'The national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure,' Ms. Richards said, 'and teenage girls are paying the real price.' She recommends ever more thorough sex education. But has that worked either?And then there's the question of condoms, about which the FDA says:"latex condoms are 'highly effective' at preventing infection by chlamydia, trichomoniasis, H.I.V., gonorrhea and hepatitis B. The agency noted that condoms seemed less effective against genital herpes and syphilis. Protection against human papillomavirus 'is partial at best,' the report said."Sex education hasn't worked yet. Condoms don't work for everything, even when they're used. How exactly is the public health/medical model working to protect the health and fertility of young women?Here's the story: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/12/science/12std.html?hp

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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