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Laura Bush says
U.S. push for abstinence overseas is “fair”

Laura Bush says
U.S. push for abstinence overseas is “fair”

On an AIDS tour of Africa, first lady Laura Bush on Sunday called her husband's administration's push for abstinence programs overseas a "fair" use of international AIDS funds. She claims money spent in developing countries through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is a "very fair divide" between programs stressing safer sex, including condom use, and those urging abstinence and monogamy. "I'm always a little bit irritated when I hear the criticism of abstinence, because abstinence is absolutely 100% effective in eradicating a sexually transmitted disease," she said.

Bush's comments come on the heels of the discovery of new guidelines from the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator that require two thirds of PEPFAR funds earmarked to prevent sexual transmissions of HIV to go to programs promoting abstinence before marriage and monogamy after marriage. Mark Dybul, the deputy U.S. global AIDS coordinator, says the new guidelines ensure that global AIDS spending meets the legal requirements of PEPFAR, which states that one third of all HIV prevention funding be spent on abstinence programs. Because only one quarter of AIDS spending in 2005 went to abstinence programs, a greater percentage must be spent on abstinence and monogamy programs in 2006 to make up for this year's shortfall, he says.

AIDS activists say the new regulations will reduce funding for condom distribution programs in poor countries and initiatives that teach at-risk groups about safer sex. (

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