For Immediate Release Contact: Jen Heitel Yakush
June 7, 2012 Phone: (202) 265-2405
Senate Appropriations Committee Maintains Teen Pregnancy Prevention Funding; Falls Short in Providing Much-Needed HIV Prevention Funding for Young People
Washington, DC—Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-Education) spending bill by a vote of 16 to 14, along party lines. The legislation was a mixed bag for education focused on the prevention of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancy for young people.
The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI), administered by the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH), was level-funded at the FY 2012 level of $104.592 million. Created in FY 2010, TPPI funds medically accurate and age-appropriate programs to reduce teen pregnancy and underlying behavioral risk factors. The grant program funds a total of 102 grantees in 36 states and is slated to reach well over 800,000 young people. The Labor-HHS-Education bill also included $8.455 million for the evaluation fund that is linked to TPPI and administered by OAH. This continues the funding at the FY 2012 level and is more than $4 million above the President’s requested level.
“While we all had advocated for a much-needed increase to TPPI, in this tight budget year, level funding is nothing to scoff at,” said Monica Rodriguez, president and CEO of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). “We are thankful for Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Harkin’s willingness to put funding on the line to support the Office of Adolescent Health and this vital program that addresses the prevention needs of youth and adolescents.”
In addition, the Senate Labor-HHS-Education bill did not include any dedicated discretionary funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, an action consistent with the last three Senate Labor-HHS-Education bills. The legislation also rescinded the roughly $22 million in unspent Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funds not currently drawn down by states; however, it did not redirect the dollars to fund evidence-based pregnancy prevention efforts targeted to foster care youth as was recommended by the President in his budget request.
“While the funding for TPPI and the continued elimination of dedicated abstinence-only-until-marriage funding are commendable, we are dismayed with the Committee’s decision to provide far below adequate funding for HIV-prevention education in our nation’s schools,” said Rodriguez.
The bill provides only $30 million for the Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). DASH is a unique source of support for HIV prevention efforts in our nation’s schools and is responsible for much of the sex education in states across the country. It is also responsible for conducting the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). DASH received a drastic funding cut of $10 million in FY 2012—a 25% reduction from FY 2011. This funding cut—to a program that has not seen a budget increase in over ten years—is hindering DASH’s ability to provide vital training, resources, and technical assistance to education agencies across the country, and the Senate bill continues this lower funding level.
“Just last week, the CDC released data from the 2011 YRBS showing that young people are receiving less HIV/AIDS education than at any point in the last ten years and that we stillhave a long way to go in supporting young people’s ability to increase positive sexual health behaviors,” said Rodriguez. “Young people are the only population in which new HIV infections are increasing and the decision to inadequately fund DASH runs counter to the direction our federal government should be taking,” stated Rodriguez, adding that, “Two young people every hour become HIV positive in this country. How can we expect to achieve the goal of an ‘AIDS Free Generation’ if we inadequately fund HIV prevention in schools and let the limited infrastructure for sex education in this country crumble?”
For ten years, YRBS data has shown that roughly 10-15% of young people reported not being taught about HIV and AIDS in school. The 2011 YRBS shows a worsening of this trend: for the first time, more than 15% of students reported not being taught about HIV or AIDS in school. In addition, 30 years after HIV/AIDS first appeared in the United States, in July 2011, the CDC released estimates of new HIV incidence for the years 2006–2009 that showed that while overall new infections remained at about 50,000 annually, new infections in young people increased dramatically over the four years, particularly among young men who have sex with men of color.
“In the past we have commended Senate Appropriators, particularly Chairmen Tom Harkin and Daniel Inouye, for their strong support of sexual and reproductive education and health care that is evidence-based and cost-effective; however, this bill falls regrettably short of providing the funding needed to ensure the limited infrastructure for sex education in America remains intact and that young people receive the information they need,” said Rodriguez. “It is great that the legislation rescinded $22 million in unspent funds from the failed Title V abstinence-only program, but why wasn’t this funding redirected to DASH, to programs that we know positively impact the decision-making skills and sexual health of young people? This is a real lost opportunity and young people deserve better.”
For more information or to interview SIECUS President and CEO Monica Rodriguez, please contact Jen Heitel Yakush at email@example.com or (202) 265-2405.
SIECUS affirms that sexuality is a fundamental part of being human, one that is worthy of dignity and respect. We advocate for the right of all people to accurate information, comprehensive education about sexuality, and sexual health services. SIECUS works to create a world that ensures social justice and sexual rights.