General Articles

Statement of Joseph DiNorcia, Jr., President and CEO of SIECUS, on the President’s Signing of PEPFAR

"PEPFAR has helped millions and millions of people living with HIV and AIDS around the world, and there is no question that it proves the United States’ commitment to providing desperately needed funds for a myriad of programs. Nonetheless, it represents the same war on evidence-based prevention that it did five years ago and will likely only continue to destroy a comprehensive approach to prevention. Provisions such as an ongoing and disproportionate emphasis on abstinence-until-marriage, a prostitution pledge which has nearly obliterated outreach to this population, a lack of common sense integration between family planning and HIV-prevention work, and a stricter conscience clause all represent the worst of our politics and dampen the positive potential of PEPFAR. Further, these provisions will continue to undermine what ought to be the most outstanding evidence of American compassion because they extend the domestic, social-conservative assault on mainstream American values into an international arena in the most cynical of ways. 

“It speaks volumes that President Bush signed this bill with enthusiasm, and championed these same ideological provisions. Certainly, there are things to laud in the bill signed into law by the President. It lifts the travel ban on HIV-positive persons, explicitly recognizes the needs of men who have sex with men in tackling the epidemic, and significantly increases investment in treatment. But, the continued denial of HIV services to sex workers and the failure to explicitly support the integration of family planning/reproductive health services with HIV services are inexcusable omissions.

“In large part, it is money that has corrupted PEPFAR, and it is money that made many advocates and members of Congress turn a blind eye to the ongoing denigration of prevention efforts. Therefore we call on the next administration to work with a new Congress to ensure that future prevention investments reflect authentic compassion for those countries and people affected by HIV and AIDS."