Congress Turns Back on Evidence-Based Policy, Resurrects Abstinence and Syringe Exchange Ban
Washington, DC — The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) is extremely disappointed by Congress’ decision to not only reinstate the ban on funding for syringe exchange in its 2012 budget, but also its allocation of $5 million for widely discredited abstinence-only sex education programs. In a year when the global health community has come together in support of evidence-based interventions, which for the first time in history have the potential to bring an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Congress has ignored the recommendations of public health experts, and instead legislated on the basis of social politics.
“Just two weeks ago, President Obama gave a speech to mark World AIDS Day in which he discussed the very real possibility that we could end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our lifetime,” said NMAC Director of Legislative and Public Affairs Kali Lindsey. “Decades of investment in research have resulted in a number of promising evidence-based HIV prevention tools that, if properly implemented, could bring an end to this 30 year epidemic. Unfortunately, rather than seizing this opportunity, Congress chose to undermine it by pushing social policies rooted in moral judgments, not science.”
Not only did Congress designate $5 million in funding for disproven abstinence-only programs, it also cut $10 million from comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education, which works to empower America’s young people to make healthy choices, including abstinence.
“Young people aged 13 to 29 accounted for 39 percent of all new HIV infections in 2009,” continued Lindsey. “Given the alarming infection rates among young people, Congress’ decision to not only reduce funding for comprehensive sex education, but set aside precious funds for programs that have been proven ineffective is extremely irresponsible. If we are to make significant inroads in the spread of this epidemic, we must empower our youth to make healthy decisions about both their relationships and their sexuality, not waste federal dollars on programs that perpetuate misinformation and shame.”
“We know what we must to do to end this epidemic,” added Lindsey. “Now we have to decide, as a nation, whether we have the moral and political will to realize this goal. Judging by today’s budget, we have not found it yet.”
Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622 ext. 333