Texas may have less money to spend when it comes to HIV/STD education. Texas lawmakers approved an amendment to the state budget, which shifts those funds to an abstinence program.
Representative Stuart Spitzer, a Medical Doctor, was successful in reducing the states HIV/STD Awareness Education fund by $1.5 million and allocating the money towards the Abstinence Education budget.
“If you read the media reports it sounds like I defunded HIV/STD programs, when all I did was shift less than 1% of their budgets toward a program that will help curb the same diseases. It amazes me how visceral the attacks on my family and I have been as a result of this effort, and how misinformed people are as to the effects of our amendment. I'm incredibly pleased that the majority of my colleagues and constituents supported me in the effort to address HIV and STDs in our state,” according to Rep. Spitzer statement.
According to the Centers For Disease Control Texas is third when it comes to HIV infections. When it comes to the top three STD's the lone star state is 13th for chlamydia, 13th for gonorrhea, and 6th for syphilis. Those stats we're echoed by Representative Chris Turner, who opposed the amendment.
Texas already receives more federal funding for abstinence-only education than any other state in the country, and the evidence shows it is not working. Our state has the third highest rate of HIV infections in the nation and has the 11th highest rate of reported STDs, yet last night, members of the Legislature chose to take away vital funding from the program created to address HIV and STD prevention," according to Rep. Turner statement.
Wichita Falls based Representative James Frank was part of the 97 lawmakers who supported and helped approve the amendment. Texas is fifth in the nation when it comes to birth rate among teenagers; right behind Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and New Mexico. In Texas, where schools are not required to teach sex education, repeat births among teenagers aged 15-19 is higher than any other state.
The amendment is far from permanent. The state senators still have to pass and approve their own version of the budget. It's possible that Spitzer's abstinence education amendment could be withdrawn or tabled.