amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Arizona Joins Other States in Rejecting Abstinence-Only Funds

February 11, 2008—Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano announced in January that the state will no longer accept funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to implement abstinence-only programs in the state. Arizona joins several other states, including California, Maine, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, that have rejected abstinence-only funds.

The DHHS allocates $50 million in federal funds for abstinence-only programs under Title V of the Social Security Act. States that choose to accept these funds must match every four federal dollars with three state dollars and are responsible for using these funds or distributing them to schools, community organizations, and health departments. With Arizona’s refusal of abstinence-only funds, more than one-third of Title V money will be unspent and returned to the federal registry. Every state, with the exception of California, has at one time accepted Title V funds.

The stated purpose of Title V abstinence-only funds is to promote abstinence outside of marriage. All programs that accept Title V funds must adhere to a strict definition of abstinence education and programs may not in any way advocate contraceptive use or discuss contraceptive methods except to emphasize their failure rates.

Several studies on abstinence-only programs have found no evidence that these programs increase rates of sexual abstinence among students. Furthermore, abstinence-only programs have not reduced the frequency of sex or the number of partners among those who have had sex. And they do not affect the risk of HIV transmission, the incidence of unprotected vaginal sex, condom use, or age of sexual debut.

Since 1982, the U.S. government has spent more than $1.5 billion dollars on unproven abstinence-only programs. Of that total, $800 million has been spent under President Bush’s administration. Congress has continued to authorize Title V funds despite a lack of credible evidence that abstinence-only programs are effective.

Click here for more information about the history of federal funding for abstinence-only programs from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.