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Policy & Politics

NIH Director Zerhouni to Send Letter to Lawmakers Defending Agency's Funding of AIDS, Sexual Health Research

January 13, 2004

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

NIH Director Elias Zerhouni this week plans to send a letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee "resolutely" defending the agency's funding for "dozens" of research studies on HIV/AIDS, sexual behavior and addiction, USA Today reports (Sternberg, USA Today, 1/13). Conservative House members have questioned at least 10 NIH research grants, including grants for studies on emergency contraception, Asian sex workers in San Francisco and women's response to pornography. At an Oct. 2, 2003, hearing on the grants, Rep. Michael Ferguson (R-N.J.) asked NIH for information about the public benefit of the 10 studies. Zerhouni's staff contacted the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which co-sponsored the hearing, to obtain the list of studies about which Ferguson wanted further information. Instead of sending the list of 10 studies, a committee staff member sent a different, longer list. That list, which includes more than 200 grants representing $100 million in funding, was prepared by the Traditional Values Coalition, which says it represents 43,000 churches nationwide (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/30/03).

"Major" Public Health Issues?
Zerhouni ordered his staff to review approximately 190 studies, including research on the sexual habits of older men, drug use among California sex workers, sexual identity among Native Americans and sexual arousal in women, and determined that the research represented "major" public health issues that should receive scientific attention, according to USA Today. TVC Director Andrea Lafferty said, "We're not opposed to research. But research dollars are scarce. Choices have to be made. Are we going to research finding a cure for juvenile diabetes or the sex lives of Mexican workers before and after they come over the border?" Zerhouni responded in an interview with USA Today, "There is no American that doesn't deserve research to alleviate their suffering, no matter where they are or whatever ethnic group they come from." He added, "When you look at the impact of sexually transmitted diseases, you're talking about HIV/AIDS and many others that affect millions of people and their reproductive lives." Zerhouni also voiced his support for the method by which the NIH determines funding levels, saying, "Independent peer review is the cornerstone of science in America" (USA Today, 1/13).

Back to other news for January 13, 2004


Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2004 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
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