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to collect information regarding sexual behavior. The committee believes that current federal and state regulations are adequate to protect the interests of minors in survey research. Current federal regulations allow for waivers of parental permission in cases where acquiring such permission would be considered unreasonable. Consensus guidelines for adolescent health research have been developed to clarify these regulations and to ensure that research involving adolescents has adequate mechanisms to protect minors (SAM, 1995). The committee believes that these guidelines appropriately balance the potential risks and benefits of health research that involve adolescents. In addition, the committee believes that it is critical to preserve the peer-review process for scientific research. It is potentially very damaging to the objectivity and integrity of this process specifically, and to scientific research in general, if external forces are allowed to influence the outcome of peer review.
Therefore, the committee makes the following recommendation:
The National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies should continue to support research on health behaviors, including sexual behaviors, and their relationship to STDs. Both basic and applied research on sexual behavior and determinants of behavior change should be supported. Research should include study of the origins and maintenance of current societal strictures against open discussion of sexuality and STDs. Such research initiatives should be coordinated among federal agencies by the National Institutes of Health. Findings of these studies and surveys should be widely disseminated to policymakers, health care professionals, educators, community leaders, and the general public. In addition, these data should be used to promote appropriate behavior change and prevention. Under the conditions specified in the consensus guidelines for adolescent health research, the committee strongly believes that waivers of parental consent for a minor's participation in research that poses minimal risk to the participant should be preserved.
Strategy 2 is to develop strong leadership, strengthen investment, and improve information systems for STD prevention. Building a national system for STD prevention requires active participation from both the public and private sectors, and requires strong leadership at the national, state, and local levels. Public and private health agencies, especially those concerned with adolescent, women's, and reproductive health; communicable diseases; cancer prevention; delivery and financing of health services; community health; and public health in general, should strongly advocate for an effective system for STD prevention. National and state health professional societies and organizations and organizations with a special interest in STDs and adolescent, women's, and reproductive health also should work together to ensure that STDs are a priority in both the