The State Department announced a new five-year strategy for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) this week on World AIDS Day. The plan (see PDF) indicates a shift away from the Bush administration’s ABC (abstinence, be faithful, and as a last resort use condoms) prevention program and toward expanding family planning as an HIV prevention measure.
One of the goals listed in the written strategy is to expand “integration of HIV prevention, care and support, and treatment services with family planning and reproductive health services, so that women living with HIV can access necessary care, and so that all women know how to protect themselves from HIV infection.” The plan also explicitly aims to expand “prevention strategies that have been proven effective and targeting interventions to most at-risk populations with high incidence rates.” Condom distribution and usage is the most effective barrier method to prevent the spread of HIV. The plan indicates that although men who have sex with men, IV drug users, and sex workers are still high-risk populations, “women and girls continue to face disproportionate impact of new infections.”
Ambassador Eric Goosby, who is also the State Department’s Global AIDS Coordinator, said in a briefing, “We are going to start targeting high-risk populations as opposed to general public service announcements that have dominated PEPFAR 1 (the first phase of PEPFAR) as one of the central strategies – the abstinence, be faithful type of activity. We’re linking family planning, reproductive health services to our prevention efforts because they are more effective. Those needs are going largely unaddressed, and where interfaced with populations that need both, we should overlap them.”