alien & sedition.
Monday, July 02, 2007
  A Failure of Compassion

I have a rather long post over at The Daily Gotham about how the Bush administration's commitment to ideological fanaticism is undermining its own much-trumpeted efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide.

The very short version: USAID and HHS, at the instigation of Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), attached a requirement to the disbursement of PEPFAR (that's Bush's $15 billion anti-AIDS effort) funds requiring that any organization receiving the money sign an "anti-prostitution pledge" -- precluding them even from spending their own private money on AIDS prevention and assistance for sex workers anywhere in the world. The result has been that the most marginalized and at-risk segments of the population in many countries are being abandoned, and those who still seek to work with them are shunned by NGOs fearful of losing the funding. The whole thing runs directly counter to best practices in public health and humanitarian services, and threatens to make PEPFAR more an agent of harm than good, undermining much of the work that has been done so far, and sacrificing the AIDS-prevention cause to silly ideological nonsense. Last year a federal judge found the pledge unconstitutional, but the Bush administration has responded by only making things more difficult for relief organizations.

This video titled "Taking the Pledge" (it's about 13 minutes) has more, including interviews with relief workers affected by the policy. You can also read about the Open Society Institute's lawsuit against the pledge here.

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