ACLU Submits Letter Criticizing Proposed Changes to CDC HIV Prevention Guidelines
The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday submitted a letter to CDC denouncing proposed changes to HIV prevention guidelines, according to an ACLU release (ACLU release, 8/17). CDC in June proposed changes to guidelines for providing federal HIV prevention funding that would require groups to obtain approval of all educational materials before posting them on the Internet. Under the proposed changes, grant recipients would be subject to increased accountability and would have to comply with a 2000 law requiring federal agencies to provide "medically accurate information" regarding the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases. CDC has collected public comment on the proposed changes (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/18). In a letter commenting on the changes, ACLU criticizes the requirement that all HIV prevention materials be reviewed by state and local officials because the officials could be "partisan, elected officials with no expertise in HIV issues and prevention," according to the release (ACLU release, 8/17). In addition, CDC should explicitly state the criteria under which a program should be evaluated, the letter says. At present, the proposed guidelines are "convoluted" and could create "a review process rife with error," allowing reviewers to "apply their own interpretation" of what constitutes "obscen[ity]," the letter says (ACLU letter, 8/16). "At a time when HIV prevention efforts are more important than ever, there's a real fear that partisan politics will begin dictating prevention messages," James Esseks, litigation director of the ACLU AIDS Project, said, adding, "To be effective, these messages must connect with their intended audiences. Let's face it, abstinence until marriage isn't going to go over well with gay teens who can't marry" (ACLU release, 8/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.