USAID AIDS Grant Undermines Bush’s Agenda, Successful ABC Prevention Methods, Rep. Pitts Says
A recent USAID grant through the Communities Responding to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic program "designated to promote relationships with community and faith-based groups" undermines President Bush's agenda by allocating money to groups that "buy into the 'safe sex' myth of battling AIDS" and do not espouse the ABC prevention method, Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Penn.) writes in a Washington Times opinion piece. According to USAID, the five-year, $50 million grant, which was made on March 13, is a "key component" of Bush's AIDS initiative, Pitts says. While many other AIDS programs have "focused primarily on management of the disease" and have failed to give "serious thought" to behavior change, the successful ABC policy of abstinence, be faithful, use condoms, adopted in Uganda in the late 1980s focuses on "positive life choices" and has succeeded in helping HIV prevalence rates in that country to "plung[e]," Pitts says. The ABC program was made official United States policy in 2002 by USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios, according to Pitts, adding that the new grant money will be given to a partnership of organizations including CARE, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, the International Center for Research on Women and the World Council of Churches, groups whose records "hardly reveal a ... commit[ment] to the stated policy of the United States." For example, Pitts writes that the International HIV/AIDS Alliance advocates legalized prostitution and needle-exchange programs, signs that the group "cannot be trusted" to uphold the U.S. commitment to the ABC policy. Pitts claims that USAID knew the activities of these groups and "[t]hat is why they only mentioned CARE" in their news release on the grant. Bush's "own political appointees at USAID" are undermining his agenda, he says. Pitts concludes, "USAID must fund programs that work, stick to the president's principles, and offer people hope" (Pitts, Washington Times, 3/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.