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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

AIDS Programs Anger Muscovites


Washington Times (10.31.03) - Friday, October 31, 2003

Charging that a US-funded AIDS prevention program is encouraging Russian girls to "choose prostitution as a career," 16 Moscow City Duma members have taken their complaints to Capitol Hill. The group - which includes cultural, financial, health and social policies commissioners - said in an Oct. 8 letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R- Ill.) that the programs promoting safe sex alone undermine proposed revisions in Russian law that would make prostitution and the trafficking of women major crimes.

"Now we find ourselves under pressure from the United States government-funded 'harm reduction' projects that distribute condoms and sex education materials that aim to reduce HIV/AIDS among drug-addicted prostitutes while lobbying in favor of legalized prostitution," they wrote, charging that morality has been overlooked. "They print materials for prostitutes that are distributed throughout Moscow schools, institutes and orphanages with the effect of encouraging young women to choose prostitution as a career. We find this morally unconscionable." The State Department calls the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in Russia "an emerging security threat" and a threat to the country's "political, social and economic stability." Russia faces an estimated 8 million new HIV infections in the next decade, the department says. CDC and the US Agency for International Development will spend $4.3 million on Russian AIDS programs this year. The International Organization for Migration estimates that 50,000 Russian women are trafficked as prostitutes in Europe each year.

"As Americans, you should apply the same standards to your foreign social policy in our country as you do your own. You should look to the well-being of our children as if they were your children. If a policy is not acceptable in America, please do not export it to us," the Duma members wrote.

The group's demands are under consideration. "We are talking with the folks at USAID to evaluate the concerns expressed in the letter," Frist spokesperson Nick Smith said yesterday.


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