PACHA Begins Two-Day Meeting; AIDS Groups Express Concern Over Council Membership
As the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS begins its two-day meeting today, AIDS groups are concerned about the sex education and condom use recommendations the council may issue. Tamara Kreinin, president of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, said in a statement, "Despite the evidence and overwhelming support by the major medical organizations and the former surgeon general for open and honest information and education to prevent HIV/AIDS ... [PACHA Co-Chair] Tom Coburn is an outspoken critic of access to and information on condom use as a tool for sexually active youth to prevent HIV/AIDS. This position is of great concern to SIECUS and the public health community" (SIECUS release, 3/13). Coburn, a former Republican congressonal representative from Oklahoma, has repeatedly questioned publicly the effectiveness of condoms in the prevention of certain STDs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/23). Kreinin said that it is "critical" that PACHA endorse comprehensive sex education that includes information on abstinence, contraception and condom use (SIECUS release, 3/13). A coalition of AIDS groups from across the United States has sent a letter to President Bush expressing its concern over PACHA membership and issuing a report card assessing the administration's performance on HIV/AIDS. In the report card, the coalition "commend[ed]" the Bush administration for retaining PACHA -- which was started by the Clinton administration -- but expressed concern over some council members who "have public track records of supporting HIV/AIDS policies that are at odds with science, public health experts, people living with HIV/AIDS and community-based providers." The coalition also states that certain panel members have made "statements viewed as homophobic and [have] discredited sound, proven HIV prevention strategies." Signatories to the letter include the National Minority AIDS Council, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the National Association of People With AIDS and the Whitman-Walker Clinic (NMAC release, 3/13). The letter and report card are available online.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.