Systematic Review or Systematic Deceit?

From the Family Research Council.

“A new British Medical Journal systematic review examines the trial results of abstinence education programs on HIV prevention but comes to some biased convulsions. The review is highly selective and only lightly adheres to established tenets of health behavior theory. The authors concluded that health programs which exclusively teach sexual abstinence do not seem to affect the risk of HIV infection in high-income countries. Taking a closer look at the scientific studies chosen for the review, trials that did not report biological or behavioral outcomes were excluded. This was a convenient way of ensuring a desired conclusion. Newly introduced prevention programs usually conduct initial evaluations based on intermediate outcomes rather than rapid behavioral change. Such outcomes include increased knowledge, positive attitudes toward the desired behavior, and intentions to practice the behavior. Demonstrating changes in disease infection rates following new health education programs can take years. Anti-smoking campaigns are a good example. Successful abstinence programs require time, patience, and a long-term view of human health. “

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