Does the Silver Ring Thing work?
Last month, there was much debate about the effectiveness of sexual abstinence programmes in the wake of the Lydia Playfoot case. Now, new research from Oxford University concludes that abstinence programmes "do not stop risky sexual behaviour or help in the prevention of unwanted pregnancy." This is an extremely important finding given the debate about HIV funding in the US (where a third of President Bush's HIV budget goes to sexual abstinence schemes).
It is no secret that the US president's personal religious views have influenced the direction of his administration's HIV spending. But there is now a significant body of scientific evidence challenging the effectiveness of the faith-based abstinence schemes he has championed. This is not to say that young people should be encouraged to have sex at an early age; it is merely a recognition that many of them do have sex (even when they participate in high-profile abstinence programmes) and sometimes without the information they need to reduce the risk of STI transmission or pregnancy.