GWB's AIDS Funding: Good News, Bad News genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

HIV Ribbon

The recent announcement that President Bush would seek to increase his Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to 30 billion dollars...doubling the prior 15 billion dollar commitment...is by and large a very positive development in the battle to combat the disease. The additional money should provide much needed medication for over a million infected individuals in Africa; doubling the number being treated with life saving drugs.

From WebMD:

The plan enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, which will ultimately decide how heavily to fund it in coming years. It remains unclear what programs Congress would cut to find an additional $15 billion, and the president on Wednesday made no suggestions in that regard.

The president urged Congress to move quickly on a bill reauthorizing the program, though lawmakers won't decide on actual funding levels until next year. Quick action would also allow Bush to leave a mark on the program before leaving office, rather than leaving it to his successor to shape the policy.

The bad news is found in the existing program details...which could well be included in the criteria for the additional funding. Current guidelines require that one third of all prevention funding must go to abstinence only programs...programs that haven't proven to be all that effective in preventing infections in countries where women often lack the autonomy to make their own decisions about sexual relations. Under theses circumstances, the distribution of condoms and thorough sex education seem more practical.

In fact, the recent evidence in Uganda suggests as much...though many of the proponents of abstinence programs disagree. A large number of the groups managing the abstinence programs are faith based organizations that have made their first forays into AIDS relief as a result of the new funding guidelines. No doubt they are motivated by ideological beliefs and financial incentives.

From The Bay Area Reporter:

"We continue to have grave concerns over the misguided restrictions on prevention funding," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. He urged Congress to lift the provision requiring that a third of all prevention funding go to abstinence-only programs "based purely on ideology, instead of proven science-based prevention strategies."

The Protection Against Transmission of HIV for Women and Youth Act of 2007 (HR 1713) would do just that by cutting the abstinence requirement. It was introduced by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Christopher Shays (R-Connecticut).

Anyone interested in understanding the people and the organizations behind abstinence funding should read Michael Reynolds article in The Nation titled The Abstinence Gluttons. They are a force to be reckoned with. Reynolds provides an in depth look at Raymond Ruddy, a prime mover in abstinence only programs and a long time supporter of George W. Bush.

Reynolds concludes that without congressional oversight, money will continue to flow into "Ruddy's extended family of antiabortion, anti-condom, anti-gay, abstinence-only Protestant evangelicals and Catholics--a radical consortium that threatens the health of millions." That would be more bad news.

Daniel DiRito | June 9, 2007 | 3:25 PM
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