Dianne Feinstein of California outlined plans Tuesday for
legislation to ensure that affected nations receiving U.S.
funds through the President's Emergency Plan
for AIDS Relief are given the maximum flexibility they
need to develop multipronged HIV prevention
programs. The senator's announcement followed
the release of a federal General Accounting office
report that says the Bush administration's push
for abstinence education programs in PEPFAR nations is
ineffective and actually hampers other HIV prevention
currently requires that two thirds of all PEPFAR funds
earmarked for HIV prevention programs be spent on
abstinence education and programs encouraging
monogamy. But the GAO report says that requirement is
forcing foreign countries to scale back other
prevention efforts, including those aimed at
preventing mother-to-child HIV transmissions and others that
provide condoms to individuals at high risk for HIV
report clearly demonstrates that we are not doing everything
we can to protect high-risk populations around the
world from the transmission of HIV/AIDS,"
Feinstein said in a statement. She added that
requiring a large chunk of U.S. AIDS funds to be spent on
abstinence instruction is a faulty approach.
"It means less money for funds to prevent
mother-to-child transmissions; less money to promote a
comprehensive prevention message to high-risk groups, such
as sexually active youth; and less funds to protect
the blood supply. And the GAO report agrees. In fact,
the report concludes that the Administration's
'abstinence-before-marriage' earmark inhibits
local efforts on the ground to stop the spread of this
she will introduce in the Senate legislation that will
ensure that overseas HIV prevention programs provide at-risk
individuals with all of the information they need to
protect themselves, which includes both abstinence
education and instruction on condom use. The bill also
will make sure that other HIV prevention efforts, such as
blood safety programs and mother-to-child transmission
prevention initiatives, are not hurt through the
strings the U.S. places on PEPFAR grants.
of tying the hands of people on the ground and taking funds
away from other much-needed prevention programs, we
should give these countries the maximum flexibility
they need to develop a multipronged HIV prevention
program," Feinstein said in a statement. "We
should emphasize the comprehensive prevention message
of the 'ABC' approach: abstinence, being
faithful to one's partner, and condom use."
The GAO report
surveyed 17 countries that receive U.S. AIDS money and
found that in 10 of them mother-to-child transmission
programs were affected by the abstinence requirement;
all 10 requested and received exemptions from the U.S.
requirement. The seven other countries also reported
that their mother-to-child prevention programs were
impacted, but they did not quality for exemptions and
were forced to continue to spend two thirds of their
U.S. prevention grants on education programs for
abstinence and monogamy.
The report also
showed that in eight of the countries, the U.S.
requirement for abstinence education hindered condom
programs that already were in place and had shown
positive results in protecting at-risk groups. (The