Several congressional Democrats have written to a group of Bush administration officials to call for their endorsement of a recent commentary in the medical journal The Lancet that supports condom use as part of HIV prevention efforts, "Congressional Quarterly HealthBeat News" reports. Nearly 150 AIDS experts from 36 nations signed the commentary, which calls for an end to the "polarizing debate" over HIV prevention and advocates a "sound public health approach" to the prevention of HIV infections. The commentary also states that the global public health community "has an obligation to offer people the most accurate information on how to avoid HIV and to encourage changes in societal norms to reduce the spread of the virus." The AIDS experts support the "ABC" approach to HIV prevention--abstinence, be faithful to a single partner, and condom use--and endorse the emphasis one of those three components depending on the target population, with no one component taking precedence over the others.
The letter was sent by Sen. Richard Durban of Illinois and U.S. representatives Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Henry Waxman and Pete Stark of California to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Julie Gerberding, head of the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator Randall Tobias, and several top government health officials. "Given the broad international and domestic support for The Lancet statement and the importance of collaboration in AIDS prevention efforts worldwide, we would like to know whether you, as a key leader in this administration in combating HIV/AIDS, support this statement," the letter said. The lawmakers asked for a response by Administration officials by January 24. Gerberding and Tobias have not yet reviewed the letter, say spokespeople for the officials.