The AIDS epidemic has been a fact of life in the United States for over 20 years, yet there is still debate about the origin of this disease and the best ways to combat its spread. Information obtained using the scientific method points to details about the nature of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and methods that control its spread with greater or lesser effectiveness. However, given that HIV is spread via person-to-person exchange of infected bodily fluids, values, morality and sexuality are necessarily an element of the debate. When what is known by science appears to conflict with what is believed in the hearts of decision-makers, controversy and changing interpretation of rules result.
On June 15, 1992 the Federal Register published Centers for Disease Control (now Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC) guidance for HIV/AIDS prevention programs entitled Interim Revision of Requirements for Content of AIDS-Related Written Materials, Pictorials, Audiovisuals, Questionnaires, Survey Instruments, and Educational Sessions in Centers for Disease Control Assistance Programs (Federal Register, 1992).
[...] Mark E Souder chair of the House subcommittee on criminal justice, drug policy and human resources, requested that Secretary Thompson of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) review the activities of STOP AIDS Project, Inc. of San Francisco. The focus of concern was that some materials were “obscene” and were promoting homosexual activity (AIDS Alert 2002). The appropriateness of workshops, presented to men who have sex with men in San Francisco, where one in three gay and bisexual men are HIV positive (AIDS Alert 2002), with titles such as “Great Sex Workshop” and “Booty Call” were questioned (Ornstein, 2002). [...]
[...] At this time, it appears the policy is being used to reign in what are seen by some as the excesses of the community.” Selective enforcement of this policy seems to be an unofficial policy of HHS at this time, given the lack of findings against HIV prevention programs serving heterosexual men, women and injection drug users. The climate created by the current interpretation of this policy has caused changes in both existing programs and those proposed for the future. [...]
[...] The issue with this policy is one of interpretation and implementation rather than one of the languages of the policy itself. The policy acknowledges the reality that some members of our community will not cease engaging in risky behavior for a multitude of personal reasons and provides for risk reduction strategies. The policy does not forbid sexually explicit material provided that it passes local review. It would not seem that teaching gay and bisexual men to modify their existing sexual behavior in a way that makes it safer violates the directive not to promote homosexual activity. [...]
[...] Are prevention programs falling prey to political pressure? Administration scrutinizes obscenity, abstinence. (Special Report: AIDS prevention funding at risk). Thomson Healthcare i3, pages 29-32. AIDS Alert (3/2002) CDC guidelines spell out dos and don'ts: here's a summary of guidelines for content. (Special report: federal AIDS prevention funding at risk). Thomson Healthcare i3, pages 39- 40. AIDS Alert (3/2002). Here is how obscenity issue was raised: storm coalesces around San Francisco group. (Special report: federal AIDS prevention funding at risk.) Thomson Healthcare i3, pages 36-38. [...]
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