Monday, February 28, 2005
Bushwacked! -- International AIDS services
Yet more politics as usual from the Bush White House that will be impacting people's lives around the world. As a former board member of Project Inform that helps lobby pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs, and the government to continue to include coverage for those HIV drugs in the US, I was disappointed but not surprised to read this story in the Wall Street Journal story (subscription required):
The Bush administration is barring private American AIDS organizations from winning federal grants to provide health services overseas unless they pledge their opposition to prostitution, as part of a broader Republican effort in recent weeks to apply conservative values to foreign-assistance programs.
The White House move comes as Republican lawmakers have been pressing the administration to cut off funds to private organizations that encourage clean-needle programs overseas for intravenous drug users -- a group at the center of the AIDS epidemic in Central Asia and other areas. Some also are pressing to ban federal funding of all AIDS organizations that fail to accept the president's social agenda on such issues as sexual abstinence and drug abuse.
Many AIDS organizations are reluctant to issue a statement condemning prostitution because they work closely with prostitutes on health initiatives such as distributing condoms. The groups say such official stigmatization would increase the women's isolation, making it harder for them to receive AIDS prevention and treatment services. Many nongovernmental organizations in the AIDS field are critical of the administration moves.