Criminalized sex work, contraception as the weakest link, reducing harm reduction, a homophobic faith-based organization doesn’t get it . . . We’re reading about policies, proposals and programs that don’t mind the gap

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“An end to AIDS is only possible if we overcome the barriers of criminalization, stigma and discrimination that remain key drivers of the epidemic.” AIDS 2014, Nobody left behind, The Melbourne Declaration

HR 4703US bill to pressure countries that do not criminalize the purchase of sex must be dropped, say rights groups – The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women released this objection to a bill introduced in May by U.S. Representatives Randy Hultgren (R-Il) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) to amend the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The point of the bill? To pressure governments that do not already criminalize sex work into doing so, and thus “reduce demand for commercial sex acts . . .” In that spirit, the bill says, ” . . . if the government of the country has the authority to prohibit the purchase of commercial sex acts and fails to so, such failure to prohibit the purchase of commercial sex acts shall  be deemed to be a failure on the part of the government to make serious and sustained efforts  to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts . . .” According to the evidence, however, GAATW points out, criminalizing sex work doesn’t lead to a reduction in demand, but to exploitation of sex workers. And according to the Lancet series on HIV and sex work, it also leads to higher chances of HIV transmission, with research showing one third of sex workers don’t carry condoms because they are used as evidence of illegal sex work. That’s just one of the reasons that the series’s 7th paper, An action agenda for HIV and Sex Workers calls on countries to do exactly the opposite of what H.R. 4703 calls for — to decriminalize sex work in the interests of public health.

The Weakest Link of HIV Prevention in Africa – Contraception – This first article in a three-part series on HIV and contraception in Africa examines why, although contraception is supposed to be the second prong in a four-pronged approach to preventing parent to child HIV transmission (in addition to preventing infection in women and in babies, and providing treatment for those infected), it remains a neglected element in HIV responses. The series also examines an effort to help Uganda’s HIV positive women to avoid unplanned pregnancies, including, “one stop shops” that combine HIV and family planning services, and, from Nairobi, one woman’s struggle to find the right contraceptive — from condoms to “safe days,” finally to an unreliable supply of long-term injectables.

People who use drugs left behind by global funding gap
– Withdrawals of donor funding and country budget cuts have reduced already under-funded efforts to reach people who inject drugs and to help them protect themselves with opioid substitution therapy and sterile needles, this story says, recounting an AIDS 2014 session in which leaders and activists called for “‘a globalization of the global funds’ to include all those most at risk from HIV infection.”

Anti-gay group fires all staff – Possibly the most ironic line in this story about how the Ugandan “faith-based” organization that urged President Yoweri Museveni to sign this year’s Anti-Homosexuality Act finally lost its U.S. funding is this: “The local organization says it is a victim of its anti-gay stance, which the donor finds unacceptable, although some sources claim IRCU failed to meet some of USAID’s rigorous accountability procedures.” What there appeared to be, between U.S. funders and this organization that essentially took the role of a hate-group, was a massive failure to communicate goals and measures needed to accomplish those goals, during the decade during which they did business together.

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