AIDS-prevention money should go to education

Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 30, 2004 at 10:09 p.m.
Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day, and with the recent re-election of President Bush, it is fitting to examine the role the United States can and should play in addressing this epidemic.
Women make up half of the 37.8 million people living with AIDS, and they are growing faster than any other group. Women are physically more predisposed than men to contract HIV, and have less control over when or with whom they have sex.
In 2003, President Bush announced his emergency plan to confront this deadly disease. However, it's a plan that relies upon abstinence as the only acceptable prevention method. Since most women who get AIDS get it through sex with their primary partner, how will teaching abstinence help them?
If the president is serious about stopping the spread of AIDS, his program should work with reproductive health providers - often the only contact a woman will have with the medical system, and her only source for sexual health information. To date, though, the administration has sent millions of dollars to religious organizations that won't teach that condoms can prevent the transmission of HIV. We hope that over the next four years our legislative representatives will work for a real AIDS policy that meets the needs of women.
Locally, Planned Parenthood offers free, anonymous HIV testing for both men and women on a walk-in basis at 914 N.W. 13th St. on Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon, with additional hours on Dec. 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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