Bush Administration Informs U.S.-Based AIDS Groups They Must Sign Pledge Against Sex Work, Trafficking To Receive Funding
The Bush administration on Thursday officially notified U.S. organizations providing HIV/AIDS-related services in other countries that they must sign a pledge opposing commercial sex work and sex trafficking to be considered for federal funding, USA Today reports (Sternberg, USA Today, 6/10). The policy stems from two 2003 laws, including an amendment to legislation (HR 1298) authorizing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief that prohibits funds from going to any group or organization that does not have a policy "explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking." The policy originally applied only to overseas groups because the Department of Justice had constitutional free speech concerns in applying it to U.S. organizations. However, DOJ in 2004 reversed itself and said that the administration could apply the rule to U.S. groups (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/28). The law was amended last year to exclude multinational groups, including the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and U.N. agencies, according to USA Today. Kent Hill, assistant administrator for global health at USAID, said the Bush administration is enforcing what is required in the 2003 laws. However, Ira Lupu, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, said the pledge violates the constitutional right to free speech for the organizations and their employees. "You're asking (the organizations) in exchange for federal grants to limit their activities under the grant, to sell off their rights to engage in politically committed expression in support of other activities," Lupu said. Paul Zeitz, head of the Global AIDS Alliance, said, "No one endorses prostitution and sex trafficking. We cannot stop AIDS if we lose the trust of people most at risk of HIV infection and undermine effective, lifesaving programs" (USA Today, 6/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.