U.S. Requirement That AIDS Groups Sign Pledge Against Sex Work ‘Sabotages’ Those It Aims To Protect, Editorial Says
Although the Bush administration's pledge to spend $15 billion over five years to fight HIV/AIDS worldwide is "admirable," the administration's policy requiring groups receiving those funds to pledge to oppose commercial sex work and sex trafficking "sabotages the very victims the law purports to defend," a Houston Chronicle editorial says (Houston Chronicle, 8/7). The Bush administration in June notified U.S. organizations providing HIV/AIDS-related services in other countries that they had to sign a pledge opposing commercial sex work and sex trafficking to be considered for 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" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/10). However, some not-for-profit organizations, while not endorsing sex work, "simply offer compassion and respect for women with no alternative," according to the editorial. The result of the pledge requirement is that "extraordinarily valuable nonprofits are censoring successful programs or rejecting U.S. aid for fear of being labeled noncompliant," the editorial says. The U.S. "advanced the only moral response possible when it committed billions to the AIDS war," the editorial concludes, adding, "Distorting and hobbling this commitment with ideological bullying is neither moral, effective or humane" (Houston Chronicle, 8/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.