Ways to Not Prevent HIV: Praise the lord, cross your legs… but pass the paycheck
What's more sobering: the seemingly relentless documentation of what a bad idea it is to give billions of dollars to right-wing religious outfits worldwide to promote "abstinence-only-until-marriage" programs under the guise of HIV prevention, or our collective inability, thus far, to stop this foolishness and redirect funding to genuine prevention efforts?
From chastity fashion mail order to the slashing of effective HIV prevention programs in Uganda, we're living through a fundamental and fundamentalist shift in public health and civic life that's pure fuel for HIV's fire.
It's not just with HIV, of course, where the Right is putting a poison pill in worldwide health efforts, from the UN on down. But HIV just may be the biggest cash cow, with a billion more for '07, Claude Allen noted, going to the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has to spend at least a third of prevention funds on pushing chastity. And the dreck being pushed in our schools thru Federal and state bucks is one of the very few growth areas in domestic spending.
Last week, the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) and Health GAP (Global Access Project) launched PEPFAR Watch, rolling it out just in time to highlight the GAO report that re-confirms that mandating hundreds of millions of PEPFAR bucks to abstinence-only is a really, really bad idea.
The site gives us a fun range of ways to say it's not working. GAO says it, well, kind of dry: "Satisfying the... abstinence-until-marriage spending requirement presents challenges to most country teams"... Health GAP makes it plain and dire, noting that "[This] policy, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars, is adding bodies to the viral death march."
And the site also links us to foe of the multilateral Global Fund for AIDS, TB, and Malaria Rep. Chris Smith (R, NJ ), who attacks the report's methods in defense of his leader-in-chief.
No matter how you say it, rates of HIV in women worldwide are spiraling upward under this Administration's watch. What's more, they are putting a whole lot of money in the pockets of groups with a much broader range of harmful projects. Even if fighting HIV isn't your passion, joining forces to stop this free ride for fundamentalists is time well spent if we can strip resources from some of our most powerful reactionary conservatives.