U.S. Support for Abstinence-Only HIV Prevention Programs Undermines Evidence Based Efforts to Prevent HIV, Letter to the Editor Says
The U.S. policy of providing global HIV prevention funding to many "abstinence-only" sex education programs that do not promote condom use is "seriously undermining evidence-based efforts to prevent the spread of HIV" and has "left those who are already sexually active without the information and support to protect themselves" from the virus, Joseph O'Reilly of the Global Working Group on U.S. AIDS Policy writes in a letter to the editor in London's Guardian in response to a Feb. 7 Guardian editorial (O'Reilly, Guardian, 2/10). The Feb. 7 editorial says the U.S. policy implemented by President Bush in 2001 not to provide funding to any organization that provides abortion services or counseling in other countries has caused "scores of clinics, many primarily providing contraception ... to close" (Guardian, 2/7). O'Reilly in response writes that the U.S. policy is "one of a number of ideological funding conditions which are putting the health of the world's poor at risk," adding, "Condoms, like abortion, are part of the Bush administration's assault on sexual health and rights." Up to 69% of U.S. funding to prevent HIV/AIDS is channeled to abstinence-only programs in some of the "hardest-hit" African countries, O'Reilly says, concluding, "The [United Kingdom] and other European donors must agree as a matter of urgency [on] a way of countering these aspects of U.S. global AIDS policy" (Guardian, 2/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.