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Commentary & Opinion
U.S. Requirement That AIDS Groups Sign Pledge Against Commercial Sex Work "Harms" AIDS Work, Editorial Says

September 2, 2005

The Bush administration's policy requiring domestic and international groups receiving U.S. funds to fight HIV/AIDS to pledge opposition to commercial sex work and sex trafficking "harms the important work the administration is funding," a Bangor Daily News editorial says (Bangor Daily News, 9/1). The Bush administration in June 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 prohibits 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, 6/10). "Of course, most people oppose prostitution," but sex workers in many communities are "core transmitter[s]" of HIV, the editorial says. Persuading sex workers to use condoms can help stem the spread of HIV, but AIDS groups cannot "approach prostitutes and seek their cooperation when they have been required to vilify them to satisfy the political interests of the Bush administration," the editorial says, concluding, "Moralistic policies should not be allowed to hamper the worldwide campaign against this deadly plague" (Bangor Daily News, 9/1).

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