AIDS battle continues What others say

Posted: Monday, May 12, 2003

There is no nobler work for the United States than in taking leadership in the global fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and the U.S. House rightly approved a bipartisan bill to commit $15 billion over the next five years to HIV prevention.

The bill might have been entangled in bitter debates about abortion and birth control, particularly in the House. ...

The legislation recommends that 20 percent of the aid for other countries go to prevention, with 55 percent for treatment programs, 15 percent for palliative care and 10 percent for orphans. ...

The House adopted, probably unwisely, an amendment by Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., that requires that one-third of the U.S. pledge for prevention of HIV transmission go to abstinence programs.

There is certainly an important place for abstinence programs, but U.S. aid agencies should not flinch from paying for condom distribution however controversial that is in some quarters if that is needed in nations fighting double-digit rates of infection. Even Uganda, the poster child for boosters of abstinence programs, has stressed the use of condoms for those who are sexually active outside of monogamous relationships. ...

Even if the Pitts amendment passes this year, and is later found to be unworkable in practice, it can be changed later. This fight is not going to be won in a year.

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

May 5

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