U.S. Policies for HIV Prevention Among Commercial Sex Workers ‘Taking a Turn for the Worse,’ Editorial States
Recent "loud arguments" over HIV/AIDS treatment policies -- such as the safety of generic medications and their cost in developing nations -- "obscure the fact that slowing the spread of the disease is at least as important" as providing treatment, a Washington Post editorial states. For example, "low-tech" efforts to improve HIV/AIDS awareness and promote safer-sex practices could "save millions of lives," and those efforts must "focus on high-risk groups," according to the editorial. In the event commercial sex workers do not "get help to reduce the risks of infection, the victims will include not only the prostitutes and their clients but also the clients' spouses and children," the editorial says. However, U.S. policies for HIV prevention among CSWs "may be taking a turn for the worse," the Post says (Washington Post, 3/6). The Bush administration last week announced a new policy requiring that all U.S. HIV/AIDS groups that seek federal funds to provide services in other nations make a written pledge to oppose commercial sex work or risk losing funding (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/28). As a result of the new policy, many HIV/AIDS groups have raised concerns that they "will be pushed into urging" CSWs to "give up their work" rather than "helping the many who are in no position to do so," the editorial says. The Bush administration "deserves credit for expanding the nation's response" to the HIV/AIDS pandemic but "should not allow its AIDS effort to be guided by utopian delusions," the editorial says, concluding, "It would be nice if prostitutes the world over could be helped toward a different way of life. But the world's oldest profession is not going to disappear, and millions of lives depend on getting AIDS prevention services to its practitioners" (Washington Post, 3/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.