- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 17, 2002

Various AIDS-prevention programs are wasting precious dollars needed to actually fight disease.

Many of those programs are expending taxpayer dollars to promote activities so explicit that they would make Cosmo connoisseurs and Maxim consumers blush. Other dollars aimed at AIDS prevention are instead spent on sprees at Neiman Marcus and phone calls to the psychic hotline. Those are a few of the findings of "AIDS Programs: An Epidemic of Waste," a report by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW). After originally coming out in February, the report was re-injected into the Beltway's bloodstream in response to the Bush administration's inquiries into abuses of such programs. CAGW found:

• The Stop AIDS project of San Francisco, which received nearly $700,000 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in fiscal 2001, has held several seminars ostensibly aimed at AIDS prevention, titled "The Basics of Sadomasochism," "Booty Call" and "GUYWATCH: Blow by Blow."

• The University of California-San Francisco AIDS Health Project, which took in a $633,765 CDC grant for AIDS prevention in fiscal 2001, has sponsored HIV bowling nights, Bay cruises and a seminar on physical intimacy.

• The Hollywood Spa, a gay bathhouse that features strobe lights and club music, received a grant for $338,000 in 1998 from the CDC.

It's worth injecting that the 90 or so organizations that received the nearly $800 million in AIDS prevention money the CDC granted in 2001 are supposed to follow the fairly explicit obscenity guidelines laid down in the court ruling Miller vs. California. However, CDC grants aren't the only ones infected with the disease of wasting taxpayer dollars. The Ryan White CARE Act, which was set up to provide basic health care services to AIDS patients and was funded for $1.8 billion in fiscal 2001 is also contaminated:

• A Los Angeles commission on HIV spent nearly $200,000 in CARE money on a publicity campaign about itself.

• An FBI investigation into the South Dallas Health Clinic discovered that $60,000 in CARE funds had been spent on shopping trips to Neiman Marcus and calls to psychic hotlines.

• A seminar on HIV that was sponsored by the federal Department of Health and Human Services and held in June 2000 in the Virgin Islands was paid for, in part, with CARE money.

Beyond those spending outrages are simple spending excesses. The CAGW report points out that the federal government spends more money on AIDS than on any other disease an estimated $13 billion in fiscal 2003 even though AIDS ranked 18th of the 20 leading causes of death in the United States in 1999 (the last year for which numbers are available), according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

AIDS is a serious problem, and every new case, no matter how acquired, is certainly a personal tragedy. But cancer and heart disease take a mortal toll, too, as does bioterrorism, and taxpayer money shouldn't be wasted on wasteful AIDS programs.

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