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HIV/AIDS Prevention Policy Update

Politics and Policy | Political Pressure From Conservative Politicians,
Advocacy Groups Weakens CDC HIV/AIDS Prevention Programs, Staff Says
[Nov 25, 2002]

Political pressure from conservative politicians and advocacy groups is
weakening the CDC's HIV/AIDS prevention
programs, according to staff members and groups that receive funding from the
agency, the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution reports.

Recently, information on AIDS prevention was removed from the agency's Web
site and groups that use CDC funding for AIDS education contend they are being
audited because of a political climate that is "hostile" to comprehensive sex
education. In November, for example, a committee that advises the CDC on HIV
prevention was merged with a panel that examines AIDS issues for the Health Resources and Services Administration,
effectively "dilut[ing]" the CDC committee's power, according to critics.
Also, AIDS advocacy organizations are protesting that the CDC has invited
groups that support abstinence-only education programs to a "prevention
summit" scheduled for December. "We are concerned about the credibility that
abstinence-only programs are getting," Martin Algarze of Gay Men's Health Crisis said. Audits Raise
Suspicion


The Journal-Constitution reports that in September, 24 Republican lawmakers
asked HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson to audit
three not-for-profit groups that develop sex-education materials.

The Stop AIDS Project of San Francisco
has had its safe-sex workshop materials audited twice in 12 months, once by
the CDC and once by the HHS inspector general's office.

Some CDC staffers privately predict that such political pressure will
intensify when Republicans assume control of Congress in January. However,
officials with HHS and the CDC say there is no "undue political or ideological
pressure." Dr. Harold Jaffe, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD
and TB Prevention, said that "at least some of" the audits are part of a
scheduled CDC review and that both "very conservative" and "very liberal"
groups will be included in the prevention summit scheduled for next month
(McKenna, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11/23).

Yours in the Struggle:

Oliver W. Martin III
Deputy Director
Conscious Contact of New York, Inc.

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