The New Mexico Department of Health is unable to account for more than $500,000 in federal funding for abstinence education programs for the state's youth, Women's Health Weekly reports. For the fiscal year that ended September 30, the state received $518,368 for programs urging abstinence to avoid HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancies. But the health department can account for only $3,822 spent on administrative costs for the program within the department. Laurel Edenburn, president of the New Mexico Abstinence Education Coalition, says four abstinence programs that received federal funding through the health department did not get any money after June 2003. She says her agency has tried for months to determine what happened to the federal funds meant for the programs.
Health secretary Patricia Montoya says she believes the program fell through the cracks when she transferred it to the public health division's family planning activities program from the behavioral health division. She says the agency will distribute abstinence funds for the current fiscal year more quickly and called on community programs to submit funding proposals as soon as possible.