End of sex worker pledge in AIDS funds lifts stigma

Monday, June 24, 2013

US groups that work to end HIV around the world will no longer be forced to take a pledge against prostitution, after the Supreme Court ruled this week it is a violation of free speech.

Global health advocates said the decision lifts the stigma of dealing with sex workers and their role in the world’s three-decade-long HIV epidemic, and will allow scientists to talk more openly about approaches that work.

“We know that stigma plays a huge role in driving the global AIDS epidemic and this was a very stigmatizing law against a population that is one of the most vulnerable in the epidemic,” said Chris Collins, director of public policy at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.

In 2003 programs that received US funds under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a global program devised by former president George W. Bush, were required to make an anti-prostitution pledge in order to receive funds.

On Thursday, the US high court found in favor of public health groups who challenged the condition. Chief Justice John Roberts said it went against First Amendment protections because it required groups “to pledge allegiance to the government’s policy of eradicating prostitution.”

Source: GlobalPost (link opens in a new window)

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