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NIH director to defend sexual health research

NIH director to defend sexual health research

Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health, will send a letter this week to federal lawmakers defending the agency's funding of research on HIV/AIDS, sexual behavior, and addiction, USA Today reports. Conservative members of the House of Representatives have questioned at least 10 NIH grants, and the Traditional Values Coalition, an antigay right-wing group, has prepared a list for federal lawmakers of more than 200 other grants the organization finds questionable. Zerhouni plans to write to members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee to "resolutely" defend the research in question. Andrea Lafferty, director of the Traditional Values Coalition, continues to criticize many of the NIH-funded research projects. "We're not opposed to research," she told USA Today. "But research dollars are scarce. Choices have to be made. Are we going to research finding a cure for juvenile diabetes or the sex lives of Mexican workers before and after they come over the border?" But Zerhouni said all of the research funding by his agency addresses major public health issues worthy of scientific focus. "There is no American that doesn't deserve research to alleviate their suffering, no matter where they are or whatever ethnic group they come from," he said. "When you look at the impact of sexually transmitted diseases, you're talking about HIV/AIDS and many others that affect millions of people and their reproductive lives."

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