WASHINGTON (June 20, 2013)—President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the respected lifesaving global AIDS plan initially created by President George W. Bush. According to the Washington Post, “The Obama administration argued it is reasonable for the government to give money only to groups that oppose prostitution and sex trafficking because they contribute to the spread of HIV and AIDS.” However, the Court, in a 6 to 2 ruling, disagreed.
“Kudos to the Supreme Court for overturning this counterproductive law that required AIDS and health groups to take an anti-prostitution pledge as a condition of receiving AIDS funding to provide potentially lifesaving care and services to needy and deserving populations,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which currently provides medical care and services to more than 200,000 individuals in 28 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia. “It is not the job of public health providers like AIDS Healthcare Foundation here or abroad to be judging the people we serve. Health service providers should have a singular concentration on protecting the public health.”
On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry held a ceremony to commemorate the 10th anniversary of PEPFAR. The anti-prostitution pledge directly—and negatively—affected many PEPFAR providers.
PEPFAR was the result of President Bush’s groundbreaking 2003 State of the Union pledge to bring two million HIV positive Africans and others into treatment and prevent seven million new HIV infections via a five-year, $15 billion US-funded program. It currently operates in more than 30 focus countries and supports antiretroviral treatment for over five million people worldwide. PEPFAR has been one of the most successful global humanitarian programs in recent memory, providing medical care to millions of people with HIV/AIDS, it has given hope to the 33 million people with HIV/AIDS in the world.