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Catholic Group Calls on Obama Administration to Do the Right Thing on HIV Prevention

Calls for condom provision and access to family planning to support ongoing prevention efforts

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement today:

"This morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will release 'PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation'—the Obama administration's plan for combating HIV & AIDS. For the plan to be effective, both family planning and condoms for HIV prevention must be included. Unfortunately, when it comes to making sure taxpayer-funded AIDS programs are comprehensive and designed to deliver the most effective interventions for people in need, the Obama administration's track record has not been good. 

"PEPFAR's FY2013 Country Operational Plan (COP) Guidance recognizes that 'there continues to be significant unmet need for voluntary family planning and reproductive health services worldwide' and asserts that 'voluntary family planning should be part of comprehensive quality care for persons living with HIV.' However, despite PEPFAR's repeated acknowledgement of the importance of family planning for succeeding in the fight against HIV, and the assertion that 'PEPFAR programs should be optimized as a platform on which to incorporate and integrate other health services,' the FY13 COP inexplicably introduces a new restriction: 'PEPFAR funds may not be used to purchase family planning commodities.'

"This is shameful. Excluding family planning from PEPFAR ignores the reality of people living longer and healthier lives after contracting HIV—people who often continue to be sexually active and deserve the right to choose whether and when to have children.

"Too often, the Obama administration has allowed faith-based groups, especially those affiliated with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), to provide second-rate services in the name of the American people and with our tax dollars. The USCCB refuses to agree to requirements that HIV prevention programs provide condoms. The bishops' position runs counter even to the beliefs of American Catholics, the majority of whom support condom use to prevent HIV. 

"Other scandals include requirements that non-U.S. organizations aren't even eligible for PEPFAR funds unless they take an anti-prostitution pledge. This means that they simply cannot serve the needs of sex workers. 

"Any smart prevention strategy is tailored to meet the needs on the ground, not the distressingly common desire to placate one or another conservative group."

Read the entire press release on the Catholics for Choice website.

SOURCE Catholics for Choice

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