Reproductive Health Supplies

A Remedy for PEPFAR’s Flaws: Comprehensive HIV Prevention

Question: What do you do
with a $100 million U.S. government program that isn’t working?  The answer; you fix it.  Abstinence and be-faithful programs for
youth in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are not meeting
the needs of sexually active and at-risk youth, according to a
government-commissioned evaluation that took place in March.  Eight months later, no plan has been put
into place to address these flaws—endangering the millions of young people
these programs are supposed to help protect. 

 

In July, the
Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Henry Waxman;
Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Lantos; and member of the
exclusive House Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Barbara Lee—all
champions of evidence-based HIV prevention—sent a letter to Mark Dybul, US
Global AIDS Coordinator at the Department of State, asking how PEPFAR planned to
respond to the serious concerns raised in this report.  Dybul’s response gave
no indication of a plan to address
the gaps the evaluation found and offered no evidence of the effectiveness of
these abstinence and be-faithful programs. 
Last month, Reps. Waxman, Lantos and Lee wrote to Mark Dybul again,
reiterating the need for a plan to address the shortfalls in PEPFAR’s youth
programming. How many letters have to be written
when people’s lives and wellbeing are at stake? 

 

For every person
who gains access to HIV treatment, six more become infected with this deadly
disease. PEPFAR cannot afford to support anything less than sound,
evidence-based prevention programs if we
truly intend  to stop this epidemic.  There simply isn’t enough funding to
spend $100 million on a program with harmful flaws.  While PEPFAR’s administrators write
letters, young people are at risk of contracting HIV because they don’t have
access to the education and supplies that they can use to protect themselves.

 

Through programs
funded by PEPFAR, the U.S. has made a historic commitment to the prevention,
care and treatment of HIV/AIDS.  But
this financial commitment is dwarfed in size by the global need for these
services.  PEPFAR has a
responsibility to ensure that all their programs, including
abstinence/be-faithful programs, are addressing the needs of their target
audience—
youth, including those who are sexually active.  If programs cannot meet this basic
requirement, it’s time to find a more effective investment for
U.S. dollars.

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