Bush Administration’s Global HIV/AIDS Policies Are Undermining Fight Against Pandemic, Opinion Piece Says
The Bush administration's "ideologically based edicts" with regard to global HIV/AIDS policy "are reducing the effectiveness of our foreign aid, squandering our reputation and alienating our scientifically minded public health allies in Africa," Paula Tavrow, director of the Bixby Program in Population and Reproductive Health at the University of California-Los Angeles, writes in a Baltimore Sun opinion piece. Many health professionals have been "dismayed" by the requirement that one-third of the HIV/AIDS prevention funding from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief be spent on "abstinence/be faithful" youth programs because such programs "prevent vulnerable youths from obtaining lifesaving information," according to Tavrow. In Kenya, many people believe the programs "stigmatize sexually active youths and undermine the government's efforts to encourage youth-friendly health services," Tavrow writes, adding that PEPFAR last year gave 11 grants of about $1 million each to "faith-based organizations" to engage in abstinence-only programs in the country. The "latest indignity" by the Bush administration was its announcement in July that any nongovernmental organization receiving U.S. funds to fight HIV/AIDS must "explicitly oppose prostitution and sex trafficking," Tavrow says, adding that the policy is forcing "cash-strapped" NGOs in Kenya to "quietly [end] their prevention programs for sex workers," despite the belief that these efforts -- which teach sex workers to distribute condoms and serve as health educators -- are critical in the fight against HIV/AIDS (Tavrow, Baltimore Sun, 10/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.