Abstinence education advocate named to HHS post

Abstinence education advocate named to HHS post
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The Trump administration has named a national abstinence education advocate to a post at the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Valerie Huber, the president of Ascend, a D.C.-based professional association that advocates for abstinence education, will be the chief of staff to the assistant secretary for health at HHS, according to a staff email obtained by The Hill. 

In an email to staff, HHS' acting assistant secretary for health Don Wright said Huber's "wealth of professional experience in the field of public policy will serve her well in this position." 

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Huber has been the president of Ascend, formerly known as the National Abstinence Education Association, since 2007, according to her LinkedIn profile. 

In an article published in Focus on the Family's Citizen magazine, Huber says she prefers the term "sexual risk avoidance" to abstinence education.

“Sexual risk avoidance is actually a term taken from public health,” she said in the article

“I bristle at the terminology ‘abstinence only,’ because our programs are so holistic. They contextualize a whole battery of different topics that surround a young person’s decision whether to have sex or not. Rather than someone telling a young person, ‘Do this, don’t do that,’ it’s casting a vision for a young person’s future.” 

In a 2016 NPR article about contraception use driving down teen pregnancies, Huber said  "as public health experts and policymakers, we must normalize sexual delay more than we normalize teen sex, even with contraception.”

Huber also managed Ohio's abstinence program from 2004 to 2007.

An HHS spokesperson has not replied to request for comment.