Brazil, recognized internationally by experts as a leader in addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic, has rejected the remaining $40 million in a 5-year grant from the U.S. government in protest of the restrictions on funding under The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The Bush Administration now requires organizations receiving PEPFAR funding to explicitly oppose prostitution. Brazilian authorities, however, feel that this requirement undermines the country's efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, which have traditionally included "'accepting, open' policies toward commercial sex workers, injection drug users, men who have sex with men and other 'high-risk' groups."1
Pedro Chequer, director of Brazil's AIDS program and chair of the national commission that decided to refuse the grants, described the Bush Administration policy as "interference that harms the Brazilian policy regarding diversity, ethical principles and human rights."2
Advocates have argued that requiring a written policy opposing sex work is, at best, superfluous as even groups whose HIV/AIDS work has nothing to do with commercial sex workers are required to make the written pledge or risk losing federal funding. At worst, the policy prevents legitimate organizations doing critical interventions with sex workers from receiving funds and sets a dangerous precedent of blacklisting organizations that do not accept the U.S. Administration's social agenda.3
The existing Brazilian HIV-prevention strategy encourages both abstinence and sexual fidelity but also provides widespread condom education and distribution. According to Chequer, the Brazilian Government had thus far managed to resist U.S. pressure to focus on promoting abstinence-until-marriage and fidelity to the exclusion of education and distribution of condoms.4 In an interview with The Guardian, Sonia Correa, a Brazilian AIDS activist, explained, "the U.S. is doing the same in other countries-bullying, pushing and forcing. But not every country has the chance to say no."5
- "Brazil Refuses $40M in U.S. AIDS Grants To Protest Policy Requiring Groups To Condemn Commercial Sex Work," Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2 May 2005, accessed 11 May 2005.
- Sarah Boseley and Suzanne Goldenberg, "Brazil spurns US provisos for AIDS relief," The Guardian, 5 May 2005, accessed 11 May 2005.