November 29, 2001
-- In its sixth annual World AIDS Day report card Lambda Legal highlights HIV prevention efforts, and flunks the Bush Administration for its just-say-no approach to sex education for young people at risk of infection.
Surgeon General David Satcher earned an "A" for his political courage in calling for thorough and medically accurate sexual health education with his "Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior" issued earlier this year.
Top grades also went to a South Bronx lesbian and gay organization whose public heath campaign targets the needs of people of color, and to the National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality, whose annual conference helps African-American church leaders talk with congregations about teen pregnancy, HIV and AIDS, and anti-gay violence.
"This year marked 20 years of living with HIV and AIDS, and we still do not have sufficient, sound, large-scale prevention efforts that are essential to controlling this epidemic," said Lambda AIDS Project Director Catherine A. Hanssens. "As this years report card shows, the federal government could learn a lot from community organizations," she said.
Highlights of grades in the report card include:
The Bronx Lesbian & Gay Health Resource Consortium created posters for ads in bus shelters targeting communities of color and men who have sex with men but do not identify as gay. The posters were taken down by Infinity Outdoor after several people reportedly complained. Infinity receives an "F" for its misguided action.
Even after reports that HIV-infection rates among young African-American men in major cities rival those of AIDS-ravaged countries of Africa, Tommy Thompson pumped $17 million additional dollars into "abstinence-until-marriage" sex education, which does not address the real needs of young people and denies the existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Now the Bush Administration wants to increase federal abstinence funding to $90 million. These programs withhold medically accurate information about STDs, HIV and pregnancy. In addition, Thompson will audit CDC-funded prevention projects to weed out realistic sexual education.
Satcher noted the growing numbers of young people with HIV and AIDS and recommended that schools play an integral role in educating kids about how to protect themselves.
Lambda Legal Director Ruth E. Harlow said, "This year, several grassroots organizations focusing on real and effective prevention efforts provide a stark counterpoint to the failed leadership of the Bush Administration and Health and Human Services Department. A sad lesson is still true - silence equals death."
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 22 million people worldwide have died from AIDS, including 430,000 Americans.
Earlier this year the CDC released information from a study it conducted in six large cities about rates of HIV infection among young men of color. The CDC reported that in those cities thirty percent of young gay black men are infected with HIV. Previously the CDC found that 51 % of all new HIV infections in the United States occur in young people under 25, and more than 25% of new HIV infections are contracted by adolescents.