Brazil’s rejection of US$ 40 million in US AIDS grants because of a Bush administration requirement that HIV/AIDS organizations seeking funding to provide services in other countries must pledge to oppose commercial sex work is “sensible and humane,” a Sacramento Bee editorial said (Sacramento Bee, 5/7).
The daily newspaper is published in the city of Sacramento, capital of California.
Brazilian officials last week said that the country has refused US$ 40 million in U.S. AIDS grants because the pledge requirement would hinder the country’s efforts to fight the disease.
Under the policy, even groups whose HIV/AIDS work in other countries has nothing to do with commercial sex workers have to make a written pledge opposing commercial sex work or risk losing funding.
In addition, the Bush administration could refuse to fund HIV/AIDS groups that do not accept Bush’s social agenda on issues such as sexual abstinence and drug use.
The new policy stems from two 2003 laws, one involving HIV/AIDS funding and another regarding sex trafficking.
Brazil’s national HIV/AIDS program encourages abstinence and sexual fidelity, but also provides safe-sex education, distributes condoms and offers antiretroviral drugs to any HIV-positive individual, according to the Bee.
Although some U.S. residents “insist on a moral litmus test for those receiving U.S. assistance,” Pedro Chequer – director of Brazil’s AIDS program and chair of the national commission that decided to refuse the grants – “has a point” that the country’s program cannot operate under “theological, fundamentalist and Shiite” principles, the editorial says.
HIV-positive Brazilians are “fortunate” that U.S. funding is “only a small part” of their country’s national AIDS program, the editorial concludes.
Kaiser Family Foundation – www.kaisernetwork.org
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