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Refraining from action, continence, particularly refraining from activities regarded as pleasurable by those who indulge, including sexual activity, drinking alcohol, and smoking. Some groups advocate abstinence from sexual intercourse as the preferred method of avoiding teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. This is effective when conscientiously adhered to, but admonitions to be chaste can be unrealistic if social and cultural pressures are ignored or when aimed at powerless girls and women, or if the strength of the sexual impulse in uninhibited youth is overlooked. It is an inappropriate approach in cultures in which girls and women lack autonomy and control of the HIV/AIDS pandemic is a priority, as in Sub-Saharan Africa and other low-income countries.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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