Policy & Politics
Obama Likely to Reverse Some Bush Administration HIV/AIDS Prevention, Family Planning Policies, Adviser Says
November 11, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama likely will undo U.S. family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention efforts that long linked funding to antiabortion and abstinence-only policies, Susan Wood -- co-chair of Obama's advisory committee for women's health and a professor at George Washington University's School of Public Health and Health Services -- said recently, Bloomberg reports. Wood said that although President Bush's global health programs -- such as the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- have brought more HIV/AIDS treatment to developing countries than under any other president, spending requirements for abstinence-only education have hampered family planning and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections worldwide.
Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, said the Bush administration's emphasis on abstinence and fidelity "been shown to have demonstrable success in Africa," adding, "It would be more than unfortunate if that policy was changed." According to Huber, both Republicans and Democrats have cited support for PEPFAR's focus on abstinence and education, which has reduced the spread of HIV in countries such as Uganda. "If the president-elect wants to be science-based in foreign sex education policies, it would be wisest to continue this way because it's shown to be effective," Huber added.
Wendy Turnbull, a senior policy analyst with Population Action International, said that because of the "Mexico City" policy -- which restricts U.S. international foreign aid to family planning programs abroad using their own funds to provide abortion services or lobby their governments regarding abortion rights -- many family planning associations that rejected the terms of the rule "lost funding ... lost technical assistance and ... lost contraceptives." Under the basis of the policy, Bush also halted support for the United Nations Population Fund in 2002, saying it supported "coercive" abortion programs in China, an allegation the agency has denied, Bloomberg reports (Gale/Lauerman, Bloomberg, 11/10). The Los Angeles Times "Top of the Ticket" blog reports that the Mexico City policy is likely to be "quickly rescinded" after Obama takes office (Hoffecker, "Top of the Ticket," Los Angeles Times, 11/10).
According to Wood, the U.S. government in recent years has influenced and "tightly vetted" international organizations to reflect its own policies. She added that Obama will bring "back a sense of balance and perspective and the use of good science and good medicine in these positions, and not just this narrow, political ideology"(Bloomberg, 11/10).
USA Today Examines Future of HIV/AIDS Efforts in Africa Under Obama
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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