Des Moines Register Editorial Showed ‘Surprising Ignorance’ on Sex Work, Trafficking, HIV/AIDS, Letter To the Editor Says
A July 13 editorial in the Des Moines Register displayed "a surprising ignorance on the issues surrounding prostitution and trafficking in persons, as well as HIV/AIDS," John Miller, director of the Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, says in a Register letter to the editor (Miller, Des Moines Register, 7/27). The Register editorial said the Bush administration's requirement that foreign groups receiving U.S. funds to fight HIV/AIDS sign a pledge opposing commercial sex work and sex trafficking "does nothing" to curb the spread of HIV and could alienate commercial sex workers, with whom some of the groups work, and jeopardize these women's "only source of health care." The Bush administration last month officially notified U.S. organizations providing HIV/AIDS-related services in other countries that they must sign the pledge to be considered to receive federal funding. 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." According to the editorial, the policy is "manipulative" and could endanger lives (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/14). However, commercial sex work and sex trafficking can "fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic and cost lives," Miller says, adding that legalizing or tolerating commercial sex work increases cross-border sex trafficking. In addition, no U.S. partner has been able to provide an example of where the policy has disrupted services, Miller writes (Des Moines Register, 7/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.