FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 9, 2003
CONTACT: Planned Parenthood
Kirsten Sherk 202/973-4864
Administration's HIV/AIDS Initiative Is Disastrous Public Health Policy
President Bush Visit to Africa is Mere Photo Op
WASHINGTON - July 9 - - President Bush will use his trip to Africa to tout his five-year, $15 billion anti-AIDS initiative, but it is unlikely that he will discuss the disastrous impact of the policies - and the domestic political concerns - behind it. The Bush AIDS initiative extends the administration's war on international family planning to HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in developing countries. One-third of the new AIDS prevention money for Africa will be directed to groups that take narrow and ineffective approaches to HIV/AIDS prevention by excluding condoms and relying on "abstinence-only" messages. These are precisely the policies pushed by the President's right-wing base.
"When it comes to finding and implementing good strategies to defeat the scourge of AIDS in Africa, sound public health policies should never take a back seat to ideology. Yet that is what has happened with President Bush's AIDS initiative," said Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Millions of lives are at stake. We should be making the best use of these scarce resources, but the Bush policies waste money and cost lives."
The "abstinence-only" provisions of the Bush AIDS initiative were deliberately crafted by right-wing groups to prevent family planning providers from receiving the new AIDS funding. These family planning organizations, however, are best situated to help prevent and treat AIDS.
Many family planning providers in Africa have a long history of integrated service delivery for women and their families, a comprehensive approach to sexuality education, vast experience providing voluntary counseling and testing for sexually transmitted infection prevention, an ability to target at-risk populations, and extensive networks on the ground providing services. This enables them to quickly and effectively target additional HIV/AIDS funds to those most in need.