The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report that strongly criticizes the Bush Administration’s focus on promoting abstinence and fidelity as the best methods of preventing HIV infection. The report is a strong rebuke a requirement of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which states that two thirds of funds spent on prevention must focus on promoting abstinence until marriage and fidelity, rather than condom use.
The GAO report highlights the effects of PEPFAR in fifteen countries and found that, while exemptions to the spending requirements on abstinence and fidelity can be granted, those without exemptions face signifcant challenges in responding to local needs. Executive Director of the Global AIDS Alliance Dr. Paul Zeitz commented that “[t]his report confirms what we have been saying all alongÉLives are in the balance, and so we need Congress to step in quickly to fix this policy.”
Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), who co-authored PEPFAR and contested the requirement for abstinence and fidelity programs, stated, “this report demonstrates the Bush administration’s willingness to make AIDS prevention policy a political plaything in their onngoing effort to appease the radical right. We need a sound public health policy, not political pandering.” She also declared her intention to reintroduce an amendment to repeal the harmful requirement.