For Immediate Release Contact: Patrick Malone
September 30, 2008 firstname.lastname@example.org
SIECUS Releases 2008 PEPFAR Country Profile Updates
U.S. Assistance to Countries Most Affected by HIV/AIDS Shows
Washington, DC – Today, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) released updates on the status of HIV/AIDS-prevention funding given through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The updates are designed as a supplement to SIECUS’ 2005 original Country Profiles, which tracked PEPFAR funding, its effects in the area of prevention, vital health statistics, and items of note in the plans 15 focus countries: Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guyana, Haiti, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zambia.
“Our 2008 Updates are designed to keep advocates, both domestic and international, apprised of the latest information on prevention in the focus countries,” said Joseph DiNorcia, president of SIECUS. “Since its inception in 2003, PEPFAR has illustrated the best of the American people’s compassion and the worst of the extreme right wing’s assault on basic decency and values. The advocacy community has a right to know where PEPFAR is falling short, as well as where it is succeeding.”
Advocates have been particularly concerned with some of PEPFAR’s prevention policies. First, a maximum of 20 percent of the funds could be spent on prevention efforts. Moreover, 33 percent of prevention funds were earmarked for abstinence-until-marriage programs. Together these made a glaring statement about the program’s priorities. PEPFAR also made funds available to faith-based organizations. While these organizations often displayed expertise in areas such as care for orphans and hospice for the dying, they were, and still are, entitled to exclude information that they believe to be inconsistent with their religious teachings. This has particular relevance when it comes to programs designed to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV.
“PEPFAR has the potential to do so much good, but the inclusion of these dogmatic and overtly political positions and requirements is hindering the work that advocates can do on the ground,” continued DiNorcia. “The 2008 updates show that in virtually all of the focus countries we need more prevention funding and less of the Bush administration’s war on evidence-based prevention. This is especially the case with regards to groups that are most at risk such as young women, commercial sex workers, and men who have sex with men.”
SIECUS also provides seven recommendations that would drastically improve PEPFAR’s prevention programming and provide greater transparency and accountability for how U.S. tax-payer dollars are being spent.
To view the 2008 PEPFAR Country Profile Updates or the Original 2005 Country Profiles, go to www.siecus.org/countryprofiles. With any other questions or for more information, contact Patrick Malone at email@example.com or (212)819-9770 ext. 316.