Health officials in Ohio say a recent report suggesting that 11 of the 13 most widely used abstinence programs contain inaccurate information and misleading claims is wrong, the Columbus Dispatch reports. The report, prepared for U.S. representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), suggests that several abstinence-only programs make a wide range of false claims, including that touching a female's genitals could cause pregnancy, that half of all gay teenagers are HIV-positive, and that HIV can be transmitted through sweat or tears. But representatives of the Ohio health department say the programs are valid and effective and that Waxman's report is inaccurate.
"The report is really a misrepresentation of the curriculum that we're using here in the state," Valerie Huber, coordinator of abstinence education for the Ohio health department, told the Dispatch. "Almost without exception there have been things taken out of context and gross mischaracterizations of the actual quote. Things were really overly inflated in this report."
Six Ohio groups use the programs that Waxman's report found presented inaccurate reproductive health information. In the 2000-2001 school year, more than 64,000 students in the state participated in the abstinence-only programs. More than 144,000 Ohio students will participate in some sort of abstinence program this year. Huber says the state health department had already scheduled an independent review of the state's abstinence programs before Waxman's report was released. It's unclear whether the report will prompt other states to review their federally funded abstinence programs.