151 AIDS Organizations, Advocacy Groups Ask Bush To Increase Domestic AIDS Funding, Suspend Potential Regulatory ‘Censorship’
A group of 151 AIDS organizations and other advocacy groups yesterday sent a letter to President Bush outlining their concerns about the Bush administration's policies concerning domestic HIV funding levels and the potential "censorship" of prevention programs and federally funded research, as well as the CDC's new HIV prevention initiative. The group also sent the letter to members of Congress and the 2004 Democratic presidential candidates. Several recent events, including the CDC's request that the STOP AIDS Project to discontinue some of its HIV prevention workshops, "appear to prioritize political ideology over sound science and public health practices," the groups say in the letter (Letter text, 6/20). The CDC on June 13 informed STOP AIDS in a letter that some of the group's HIV prevention workshops violate a Public Health Service Act ban on encouraging sexual activity and asked the group to discontinue the workshops, four months after an agency review found that the workshops were acceptable (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/16). Such "regressive policies of censorship and intimidation -- both regulatory and informal -- ... put American lives at risk" and will increase the number of new HIV cases, the groups say. The groups continue, "This trend is not acceptable and works against not just the health and safety of at-risk groups, but the health and safety of all citizens. We need your leadership on this issue." The groups ask that the administration:
- Increase funding for domestic HIV/AIDS programs;
- Ensure that new CDC HIV prevention guidelines allow "comprehensive prevention strategies" for those most at risk;
- Allow local groups to continue to operate "culturally relevant" prevention programs without the "relentless and intrusive" scrutiny of the CDC;
- Allow comprehensive sex education programs that address the use and efficacy of condoms; and
- Protect science from the "clear censorship of potentially life-saving information."