1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Risk Reduction or Abstinence - Which is Better for HIV Prevention?


Updated November 07, 2010


Proponents of abstinence only insist that:
  • data proves that abstinence only teaching prolongs a teen's first sexual experience

  • abstinence is the morally correct choice for unwed couples

  • abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent HIV and other STDs

  • many religious doctrine support abstinence for unwed couples

  • safer sex teaching gives teens a "license" to have sex earlier in life.


Opponents of abstinence only argue there are several reasons why teaching abstinence alone is not a good idea. They believe:
  • scientific data suggests abstinence only teaching actually leads to earlier sex in teens.

  • condoms have been proven to prevent HIV transmission and the spread of STDs

  • abstinence only teaching does not provide people with the information they need to make informed decisions regarding protecting themselves and their partner

  • because abstinence only teaching emphasizes sex only after marriage, it stigmatizes gays, lesbians, and transgender people

  • abstinence only teaching implies that gays, lesbians, and transgender people are morally suspect because they have sex outside of marriage

  • by funding only abstinence programs, tax payers' money is essentially being used to censor some prevention messages.

Where It Stands

Abstinence only programs are growing in number across the country. Prevention programs have no choice but to follow the funding. Prevention agencies offering both prevention and abstinence are being forced to find alternative funding in order to stay in business. And while the debate continues, HIV infections continue.

We would love to hear your opinion on this issue. Speak out in our forum. Share your thoughts with the HIV community and make a difference.

Another way you can help is to let your voice be heard in Washington. Write your Senators and Representatives letting them know how you feel about abstinence only, risk reduction and the need to fund both. You letter can make a difference.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  4. Testing & Prevention
  5. HIV Prevention
  6. Risk Reduction - Abstinence Only - Positive Prevention - HIV Prevention Education

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.