US Discriminates Against HIV Organizations That Aid Sex Workers


Activists gathered together this week in both Washington DC and Kolkata, India to speak up against an anti-prostitution pledge that global HIV organizations are forced to sign if they want to receive money from the United States. The global HIV prevention funding option, which was set up under George W. Bush is called Pepfar, or the President’s emergency plan for AIDS relief.

Essentially, the anti-prostitution pledge was originally implemented along with the bestowal of funds to discourage organizations from abetting prostitution or sex trafficking on the global scale. Instead, the pledge acts as a way to discourage global aid groups from helping sex workers, who are often one of the most vulnerable groups to the virus.

The main problem, as pointed out by the Guardian, is that the pledge is so all-encompassing and expansive that groups cannot help any sex workers, even if they use the Pepfar funds for projects that have nothing to do with sex workers. Any grantee must promise not to implement any project that may have a hint of aid moving in the direction of prostitution.

Now many global organizations must make a choice: either avoid applying for Pepfar funds and implement as many projects as you can on a limited budget, or accept the funds and refuse to acknowledge the growing and ever-present reality that many sex workers are an especially vulnerable group.

Serra Sippel of the Center for Health and Gender Equity said in a press release this week, “It is discriminatory policies like the anti-prostitution pledge that will keep us from ever getting ahead of HIV.”

Now groups that would have been making a dent in many of the countries in Africa that especially require immediate help for populations affected by HIV have been essentially barred from getting new funding.

Protesters gathered to demand a change in the Pepfar anti-prostitution stance in the wake of the International AIDS Conference held in Washington, DC. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the event and seemed to suggest that changes were in order for Pepfar funding. quotes Secretary Clinton:

I have seen and experienced how difficult it can be to talk about a disease that is transmitted the way that AIDS is…But if we’re going to beat AIDS, we can’t afford to avoid sensitive conversations, and we can’t fail to reach the people who are at the highest risk.

Ideally many grantees want to offer sex workers contraceptives, medications and resources to take control of their lives and their health, in any way possible. Clinton announced on Monday that another $37 million would be spent to target the most vulnerable populations but many critics feel that Clinton’s words and intentions are not strong enough. When she began her speech in DC, the shouts of the protesters could be heard over her voice.

The Guardian reports that around 200 organizations and individuals have signed a petition that demands the pledge be repealed. U.S. organizations no longer have to sign the pledge after a court declared it went against first amendment rights.


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Photo Credit: Kai Mörk


Rosemary G.
Rosemary G5 years ago

Those who discriminate against Sex Workers are the ones who use them the most..Remember the instance in the Bible when the men were going to stone the town's prostitute to death..And the old farts are the ones that walked away first..Haha what a bloody laugh..Nothing has changed in several millenia.. Things are still the same which proves how ignorant and stupid we are and no higher so-called perfect intelligent being could have created such a flawed, horrible being.

J.L. A.
JL A5 years ago

a ghastly policy and a Bush legacy that should have already been buried and history

Arild Warud


Sue H.
Sue H5 years ago

This is very disheartening. Sex workers are those who are in the most need. Stopping HIV/AIDS will not happen if this industry is left out.

Valarie Snell
Valarie Snell5 years ago


Pamela Tracy
Pamela Tracy5 years ago

Frankly..I think men who need to control women and make them sex targets are criminally sick..therefore target those who put women in these situations....

Pamela Tracy
Pamela Tracy5 years ago

Actually.....the problem with the sex trade is that they like to hurt those of us who try to lead decent single lives.....and if divorced try to find better lives either alone or with someone....married women in some cultures are considered the whores...i hate that other cultures whores are the sex trade....we all get out lives violated by the sex trade idiots that like to lump us in with the sex trade real.....workers....the mediums lump decent women in with dirty young women and their liberal lives....the american system being fanatically priggery...too puritanical...we know what puritanism did to our ancestral women....get real america...dont be putting single decent women in with the sex traders..especially those of us who like living alone with our cats or dogs...cats in my case..the world hates a person who lives alone, goes to bed alone, gets up alone, watches tv alone, reads books alone, all of this done whenever we want to not having to think about the needs of anyone is..

so back off those of us who love heaven and peace without thinking about the needs of some book out about the millions of people choosing to live alone now and how we are not your old time needies.

Thomas Bergel
Past Member 5 years ago

Laws that attempt to influence morality are doomed to failure from the start.

Thom Loveless
Thom Loveless5 years ago

Thank you all of you who gave me a green star for my comment below....many more than I expected...... Much appreciated....

Katie K.
Katie K5 years ago

Oldest profession in the world and these bobo's think by denying help, it'll make it go away. Bush's higher moral ideals were the only thing he was focused on. Do you really think he implemented this bill because he has and understanding and kind heart? Men have always and will always seek out prostitues. Some have the funds to go to prostitutes that have regular check-ups but the majority are on the streets taking that chance for instant gratification no matter the risk. As we struggle economically this profession has we become more vast since single mothers will feed their children one way or another. There's another thing that want to take funding from. Get your heads out of the sand.