Brazil has been
alerted by the U.S. Agency for International Development
that the country is not eligible to renew a $48 million HIV
prevention grant because the country will not sign a
pledge opposing sex work, The Washington Post
reports. The U.S. government now requires all
recipients of AIDS funds to publicly oppose sex work.
But Brazil refuses to bow to pressure from the Bush
administration to sign such a pledge, saying its HIV
prevention work with the nation's sex workers
has been a key part in slashing its HIV incidence level.
Brazil is the only country receiving U.S. AIDS funds
to defy the new U.S. requirement.
"When we started
in the 1980s, our projected AIDS rates were exactly
the same as Africa's, but now it's a completely different
story," Mariangela Simao, deputy director of Brazil's
national HIV program, told the Post. "I'm
convinced it's a result of the way the government has
responded. We provide information and resources and
don't enter into moral or religious issues."
officials say the loss of U.S. funds will hurt the
nation's HIV prevention efforts, but the country is
already searching for new ways to make up the
difference. One key step is opening a state-run condom
factory later this year that will produce low-cost condoms
that will be distributed throughout the country,
reducing Brazil's need to import more expensive
condoms, health officials say. (Advocate.com)