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

UNITED STATES: AIDS Group Sues United States Over Funds


Wall Street Journal (08.12.05) - Friday, August 12, 2005

DKT International recently filed suit in a Washington, D.C., federal court against the US Agency for International Development and its administrator, Andrew Natsios, for rejecting the group's AIDS grant application because it refused to sign an antiprostitution pledge. Requiring a pledge to the Bush administration's "political viewpoint on prostitution" violates DKT's First Amendment free-speech rights, the nonprofit Washington-based charity claimed.

DKT specializes in using social marketing to support AIDS prevention services, including to prostitutes, and sold 390 million subsidized condoms last year in 11 countries. The case involves projects in Vietnam, where DKT has worked on AIDS efforts with USAID and other donor support for 12 years.

In June, according to its court filing, DKT asked the USAID contractor Family Health International for a $60,000 subgrant to promote condom lubricants to help reduce breakage. FHI originally approved the grant but later withdrew its support after DKT's representative in Vietnam refused to certify "that it has a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking," the suit noted.

DKT asked the judge to bar USAID from denying it federal grants pending a ruling in the suit. "The government cannot tell us what policies to have," said DKT founder Philip Harvey.

According to USAID spokesperson Heather Layman, "it's the official policy of the US government to oppose prostitution and sex trafficking as dehumanizing and degrading." However, "there's nothing in US law that prohibits the [United States] or any of our partners from providing services to high-risk populations, including women in prostitution," Layman said.


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