U.S. Warns San Francisco AIDS Group on Funding
June 16, 2003
On Friday, the Bush administration ordered San Francisco's STOP AIDS Project to immediately halt several explicit programs that "appear to encourage or promote sexual activity" or risk losing as much as $500,000 a year in federal grants. The order, delivered in a letter from CDC, was prompted by inquiries from Rep. Mark Edward Souder (R-Ind.). A similar letter warned the San Francisco Department of Public Health to apply stricter oversight to groups like STOP AIDS Project.Adapted from:
"The message you send not just to STOP AIDS Project, but to thousands of grass-roots prevention groups across the country, is that a group of right-wing jihadists with political power will be looking over their shoulders as they attempt to meet the prevention needs of their communities," Terje Anderson, executive director of the National Association of People with AIDS, wrote to CDC Director Julie L. Gerberding. Souder aide Roland Foster said the lawmaker does not care about obscenity but wants evidence that the approach works.
Traditionally, CDC sends prevention money to state and local health departments, which direct it to organizations. CDC is generally loath to dictate specific health polices or to place strict requirements on state health departments. That is why the two-page letter "shocked" STOP AIDS spokesperson Shana Krochmal. "All of our programs are based on the CDC's own model for doing community-level HIV interventions," she said.
Mitchell Katz, director of the city health department, defended the workshops and disputed the notion that graphic language encourages sexual activity. If CDC cuts the funds to groups like STOP AIDS, the city will find ways to keep the programs running, Katz said.
After a two-day site review last year, CDC investigators concluded that the "design and delivery of STOP AIDS prevention activities was based on current accepted behavioral science theories in the area of health promotion," Gerberding wrote in February. She also praised the group for securing the required local review. But in Friday's letter, Gerberding said the local review process is insufficient, and she intends to change it.
06.14.03; Ceci Connolly