GOP Lawmakers Send Letter to HHS Secretary Thompson Criticizing CDC for Funding ‘Inappropriate’ HIV Prevention Programs
In a letter sent yesterday to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, Republican Reps. Joseph Pitts (Pa.), John Shadegg (Ariz.) and Christopher Smith (N.J.) criticized the CDC's funding of "inappropriate" AIDS prevention programs, the Washington Times reports (McCain, Washington Times, 11/8). The lawmakers wrote, "[W]e have grown increasingly concerned about some of the activities that the CDC is funding and promoting -- activities that are highly controversial in nature, and funding that could be better used for our War on Terrorism." They offered examples of CDC grants being used by AIDS groups in San Francisco to sponsor a workshop to teach gay men how to choose and use toys "for solo and partner sex"; a $64,000 CDC grant that paid for a billboard campaign in St. Louis, Mo., that depicted bare-chested men embracing, which Mayor Francis Slay ordered removed for being offensive to families; and San Francisco's CDC-sponsored "HIV Stops with Me" campaign featuring HIV-positive "spokesmodels," which KGO-TV refused to air for its "questionable content." In addition, the representatives noted their opposition to the CDC advertising and promoting on its Web site "conferences and organizations that have little to do with public health." They used as examples the General Service Foundation, which is "dedicated to improving access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, for women and adolescents," and the Playboy Foundation. According to the letter, these groups "raise many questions and clearly cross the line between promoting public health and political advocacy, and in some cases, actually undermine the CDC's mission of promoting healthy living" (Pitts/Shadegg/Smith letter, 11/8). CDC spokesperson Jessica Frickey on Wednesday would not comment on the complaints, saying that the CDC had not received a copy of letter, and officials from Thompson's office did not return calls seeking comment placed by the Times (Washington Times, 11/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.