Using Science to Improve the Sexual Health of America's Youth

Wiley, David C.
Journal Article
Year Published: 2012
Elsevier Inc.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 42(3): 308-310, March 2012.
The Department of Health and Human Performance, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas

For decades, sexuality education policies and practices in the U.S. have been a mixture of science, morality, politics, and the personal opinions of key decision makers, says this author. Far too often, he argues, science has fared dismally when policy, practice, and curriculum decisions were made. The impact of poor and limited policies regarding sex education and access to contraception have had far-reaching consequences, including rates of teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and unprotected sex that are far higher in the U.S. than in European countries. This author says the new research from the Community Preventive Services Task Force, focusing on the meta-analyses of group-based comprehensive risk reduction and abstinence education interventions, is a positive first step to improving the sexual health of our youth. In this commentary, he provides a brief history of sex education in the U.S. and discusses the value of the Task Force's work for the future of sex education policies and programs in the U.S.

Correspondence to: David C. Wiley, PhD, Department of Health and Human Performance, Texas State University, Jowers Center A121, San Marcos, TX 78666; E-mail:, Website:
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