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International News
BBC Quits HIV-Prevention Campaign Over USAID Policy Requiring Pledge Against Commercial Sex Work

January 24, 2006

The BBC World Service Trust decided to suspend an HIV-prevention campaign rather than comply with a U.S. policy requiring that recipients of U.S. HIV/AIDS service grants pledge to oppose commercial sex work, London's Guardian reports. The organization was founded with the aim of using the media to promote development goals, and in early 2005 it signed a $4 million contract with USAID for a three-year, HIV/AIDS-prevention campaign in Tanzania. BBC planned to team up with Tanzanian broadcasters to produce radio dramas, phone-ins and public service announcements (Gill, Guardian, 1/23). The Bush administration in June 2005 notified U.S. organizations providing HIV/AIDS-related services in other countries that they must sign a pledge opposing commercial sex work and sex trafficking to be considered for federal funding. The policy stems from two 2003 laws, including an amendment to legislation (HR 1298) authorizing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, that prohibit funds from going to any group or organization that does not have a policy "explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/26/05). Although the project would not directly have supported sex workers in Tanzania, it might have included programs that "nonjudgmentally" portrayed sex workers, the Guardian reports. As a result, the U.S. pulled out of the BBC campaign six months after the contract was signed, according to the Guardian. If the BBC World Service Trust had signed the pledge, U.S. government officials would have been entitled to scrutinize the organization's global projects for compliance with the pledge, and the Tanzanian campaign would have been required to promote abstinence by underlining the failure rates of condoms, the Guardian reports. The BBC World Service Trust is looking for other agencies to support the Tanzania campaign (Guardian, 1/23).

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