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Abstinence education mostly ineffective

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CLEVELAND, Sep 07, 2005 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- U.S. teenagers report increased knowledge concerning sexually transmitted diseases after sexual abstinence education, but no reduction in sexual intercourse.

The Case Western Reserve School of Medicine study examined the effectiveness of "For Keeps," an abstinence-until-marriage sex education program presented to more than 25,000 students at public and private schools in the Cleveland area.

The study involved questioning 2,069 middle school students about their sexual knowledge and practices before and five months after receiving the For Keeps curriculum.

Researchers, led by Elaine Borawski in the university's department of epidemiology and biostatistics, found teenagers completing the program reported significant increases in their HIV/STD knowledge, their personal beliefs about the importance of abstinence and their intentions to remain abstinent in the near future.

But the program did not affect students' avoidance of risky sexual situations. In fact, female students and students already sexually inexperienced reported a decrease in their intent to use condoms.

The study also found the program did not significantly reduce the likelihood the teenagers would engage in sexual intercourse or to use a condom consistently.

The research is detailed in the American Journal of Health Behavior.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International.

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