Following a lengthy review by federal health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday deemed several controversial programs conducted by San Francisco's Stop AIDS Project to be appropriate and not misuses of federal funds, the Los Angeles Times reports. A team of CDC investigators in August met with Stop AIDS Project employees to review how the organization spends federal HIV/AIDS prevention dollars. The visit came after three Republican congressmen and Health and Human Services inspector general Janet Rehnquist said some of the agency's workshops--including those called "Booty Call," "Great Sex," "Sex Toys for Leather Boys," and "A Walk on the Wild Side"-- violated the federal ban on using government funds for programs that promote sexual activity or are considered obscene. The Stop AIDS Project receives about 38% of its $1.8 million budget in federal funds.
CDC director Julie Gerberding wrote in a letter to Stop AIDS Project officials that the review teams found "the design and delivery of Stop AIDS prevention activities was based on current accepted behavioral science theories in the area of health promotion." The letter also noted that the agency's programs had been adequately studied by a San Francisco Department of Public Health review panel, as required by federal law, and had not been found to exceed community obscenity standards.
Darlene Weide, executive director of the Stop AIDS Project, welcomed the CDC's conclusions. "There is nothing obscene in the work we do or in talking about the reality of gay men's lives," she said. "What is obscene is that sound prevention techniques that we know work in the real world are constantly on trial."