Conservative ideologues will likely replace seven of the eight Clinton-appointed panelists on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) when their terms end this January, according to the Washington Blade. PACHA consists of 35 members, appointed to staggered four-year terms. With exiting panelists including gay activists who support HIV prevention programs that incorporate “safer sex” practices and condom use, the move marks yet another step in the Bush plan to impose abstinence-only sexual education across the nation. The sole Clinton-appointee expected to remain is DC gay and AIDS activist Brent Minor.
AIDS advocates caution strongly against the dangerous institutional shift towards the right. Last month, a group of 12 House Democrats sent a letter to Tommy Thompson, Health and Human Services Secretary, expressing concern over the administration’s continued disregard for established science particularly demonstrated through its appointments to advisory committees, financial audits scrutinizing comprehensive sex education groups, and the removal of select information from government agency web sites. In the latter case, the Bush administration has gone so far as to remove fact sheets from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site discussing the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy, as well as scientific findings posted on the National Cancer Institute (NCI) web site, stating there is no link between abortion and breast cancer.
Every prominent medical and health organization in the US, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Nurses Association, the Institute of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, agrees that proper condom use is imperative to reducing the risk of infection by HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. According to a June 2001 report by former surgeon general David Satcher, 12 million Americans are infected every year with a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD).