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American Medical Association Renews Its Support of Comprehensive Sex Education

At its 2009 Annual Meeting, the American Medical Association passed a resolution promoting comprehensive sex education programs as the most effective strategy to prevent the HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and teen pregnancies.[i] The resolution was based on a report by the Association’s Council on Science and Public Health entitled “An Updated Review of Sex Education Programs in the United States,” which was also released at the conference held from June 13-17, 2009 in Chicago, IL.

The report looked at studies of both abstinence-only-until marriage and comprehensive sex education programs. The review of the evidence found "no delay of initiating sexual activity, no reduction in the number of sexual partners and no increase in abstinence" from abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, according to Stuart Gitlow, MD, MPH, who presented the council’s report. Instead, the report recommended that, in light of the evidence, youth should be presented with a range of prevention topics, including abstinence, contraception, condom use, and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.[ii]
The resolution is not the first time the AMA has expressed support for comprehensive sex education, but it does take the step of recommending a “redirection of federal resources towards the development and dissemination” of these programs.[iii]
“We are incredibly pleased that the American Medical Association has again looked at the evidence to inform their support of comprehensive sex education. Their findings reinforce the call by educators and public health professionals across the country to provide young people with the critical information they need to make healthy decisions,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at SIECUS.
At the Annual Meeting, the AMA also passed a resolution to actively support the development of a National AIDS Strategy. The resolution specifically directs the Association to engage in collaboration with the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and other relevant associations to promote and improve evidence-based HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment.[iv] More information on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy can be found at www.national or in this White House information sheet <>.

[i] Victoria Stagg Elliott, “AMA Meeting: Comprehensive Sex Ed Said to Have Most Impact,” American Medical News, 29 June 2009, accessed 14 July 2009, <>.

[ii]American Medical Association House of Delegates, “Report of Reference Committee D,” accessed 16 July 2009, from <>.

[iii] Policy Statement, H-170.968 Sexuality Education, Abstinence, and Distribution of Condoms in Schools, American Medical Association, accessed 04 January 2007,  <>; AMA, “Report of Reference Committee D.”

[iv] AMA, “Report of Reference Committee D.”