By Hilary White

  CALGARY, February 20, 2007 ( – It is “critical” to re-evaluate the current approach to sex education that ignores the behaviour that leads to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) says Calgary’s Catholic bishop, Fred Henry. 

  Citing the enormous increase in STD’s and the “bombardment” of young people by sexually explicit imagery, Bishop Henry urges a return to a traditional sexual and social ethic that reserved sexual activity to married couples as the only certain way of reducing harm to adolescents.

  Bishop Henry says the current approach deals only with the end results. He urges “Parents, physicians, educators, and governing bodies [to] adopt a health oriented approach that addresses sexual attitudes and behaviours recommending delayed genital sexual activity and partner reduction.”
  Henry accuses the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co of exploiting the widespread fears of the failure of “safe sex” strategies to push its new vaccine for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Gardasil. Studies have shown that HPV infection is a factor in nearly all cases of cervical cancer. The US government is attempting to make the vaccine mandatory for girls as young as nine, a move that would net the company enormous profits.

  The bishop cites the US Department of Health and Human services strategy that aims “to increase … the proportion of adolescents in grades 9-12 who have never had sexual intercourse.” Such abstinence and partner-reduction strategies have significantly reduced the spread of HIV/AIDS and other STDs in some African countries, notably Uganda. Researchers have lauded the Uganda effort as the equivalent of a highly effective vaccine.

  He writes that “teaching, active monitoring of social and other activities, and giving overt guidance regarding appropriate and safe dating relationships,” by parents, and not increased condom use or vaccines is the solution to the scourge of STD’s.

“We need to move beyond a societal preoccupation with appearance, image and measuring up to an artificially created supposed ideal; teach critical thinking skills; provide guidelines as needed; and teach right from wrong,” he writes. 
  Read related coverage:
  Drug Conglomerate funds campaign to impose Mandatory HPV Vaccine on Young Girls

  Ugandan Abstinence AIDS Prevention Program Equivalent to a Highly Effective Vaccine, Researchers Find