- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 17, 2004

Proposed changes to the guidelines for giving federal money to AIDS-prevention programs would require approval of educational materials before they are posted on the Internet.

The revisions, issued Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also would increase accountability for AIDS-prevention grant recipients and ensure their compliance with a federal law requiring education materials to “contain medically accurate information” about the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

CDC spokeswoman Kathy Harben said the proposal is intended to “address technology advances, particularly the availability of information on the Internet.”

She said the revisions have “been planned for some time. We felt that, for a variety of reasons, [the guidelines] needed to be updated. It’s also important that we get input from the community about the proposed changes.”

Public comment on the revisions will be accepted during the next two months before any action is taken.

Kate Krauss of the AIDS Policy Project called the changes “really bad, and shocking” in an e-mail message to fellow AIDS activists. She also said in the e-mail that the guidelines “may also be a violation of freedom of speech under the Constitution.”

The AIDS Policy Project works to keep AIDS in the public eye and a high- funding priority for lawmakers.

Miss Krauss did not return phone calls yesterday.

The revisions, however, were applauded by those who have been critical of CDC’s funding of groups such as San Francisco’s Stop AIDS Project, which offered workshops with names such as “Flirt, Date, Score” and “Booty Call.”

“It’s about time the CDC demanded more accountability from HIV prevention groups receiving taxpayer dollars,” said Michael Petrelis, a San Francisco AIDS activist. “For too long, groups such as the Stop AIDS Project … have viewed federal funding as a cash cow to be milked endlessly.”

The Stop AIDS Project lost its CDC funding last month, more than two years after a November 2001 investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services concluded that some of the organization’s workshops met the “legal definition of obscene material.”

Conservatives in Congress praised the CDC’s guidelines, including the requirement that grant recipients comply with a law passed in 2000 requiring federal agencies to provide “medically accurate information regarding the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of condoms” in preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

“I applaud the CDC for taking the necessary steps to update its materials regarding HIV/AIDS prevention,” said Rep. Dave Weldon, a Florida Republican and physician. “Sadly, too many lives have been adversely impacted by relying on inaccurate information regarding the effectiveness of condoms to protect against STDs.”

Rep. Mark Souder, Indiana Republican and chairman of the House subcommittee on criminal justice, drug policy and human resources, said medical accuracy is an important step to ensuring the effectiveness of HIV-prevention programs.

“I am hopeful this will finally put an end to federally funded flirting classes and other programs of dubious value and outrageous content that have failed to prevent HIV,” he said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide