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HIV And AIDS Advocacy Groups Around The World Call For More Funding Transparency

World AIDS Day to Mark Start of International Effort to Shed Light on How Public Funds Are Used

30 November 2010 - International developmentagencies in nine countries—Austria,Canada,Denmark,Germany,Norway,Spain,Sweden,the United Kingdomand the United States ofAmerica—have been asked to explain their criteria for fundingHIV and AIDS assistance—and whether faith-based organizations get specialconcessions when they apply for public funds to deliver prevention and treatmentprograms abroad.

Sixteen national andinternational nongovernmental organizations today wrote to nine nationaloverseas development agencies, requesting "assistance in achieving greatertransparency and accountability in the funding that faith-based organizationsreceive from publicly-funded bilateral and multilateral donors." Theletter also went to UNFPA and UNAIDS.

The organizations notedthat it can be unreasonably difficult to find out how much taxpayer money isgranted to organizations working on HIV and AIDS. Not only that, it is alsodifficult to determine the criteria by which public funders judge whether anorganization is eligible to receive funds for its HIV and AIDS work and,importantly, whether special considerations are made for faith-basedorganizations.

Jon O’Brien, president ofthe sponsoring organization Catholics for Choice, said, "The pope’scomments on condom use in HIV prevention present a terrific opportunity foraction—opening the door for increased prevention options to be made availableand for assistance to be provided to some of the more marginalized groups,including sex workers and men who have sex with men. Indeed, it has thrown openthe doors to a more public conversation about the use of condoms to curtail theHIV pandemic. This is especially true for faith-based organizations that haveoften claimed religious justification for refusing to provide condoms or towork with any number of communities of whose 'lifestyles' they do notapprove."

The effort was initiated byCatholics for Choice and its Condoms4Lifecampaign—the only campaign dedicated to changing the church’s teachings oncondoms. (To see the Condoms4Life ads placed in newspapers around the world onWorld AIDS Day, click here.)The signatories will follow up with the development agencies in January 2011.

A full list of agenciesthat will receive the letter follows at the end of this release.

The letter notes that somefaith-based health providers do not offer the full range of preventative carein instances when they believe that doing so would violate their religiousbeliefs. For example, providing or advocating for condom use, or providingservices to sex workers or men who have sex with men.

"The pope has createdthe possibility of rapid change in the way the Catholic church views HIV/AIDSand how it can preserve the sanctity of human life," says Dr. Paul Zeitz,executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance. "Given the spotlight thathas fallen on HIV/AIDS programs, international development agencies should alsofocus on ensuring that there is complete transparency on whom they fund andtheir support for evidence-based services. The pope has provided a glimmer ofhope that we actually can begin the process of ending the AIDS epidemic ratherthan believe it is enough to maintain the sick and dying. It never willbe."

The NGOs called for HIV andAIDS-related grants to be subject to the same strictures that public funds inother spheres are and for information about which organizations receive funds,and how much, to be published annually. They also requested that aid agenciespublish the criteria by which they judge whether to fund an organization andthat the agencies require that these funds not be used to discriminate inhiring or proselytize. Recipients of funds should also agree to either provideall relevant services themselves or find reasonable alternatives for theprovision of basic treatment and prevention options.

The letter concludes:"As we mark World AIDS Day, it is clearer than ever that in order to savelives and prevent new infections, we must use every proven, effective tool atour disposal. Furthermore, when enormous sums of public funds are at stake, andparticularly in a time of global economic crisis, interventions should berequired to be evidence-based and non-discriminatory."

The following agencies arereceiving the letter:

Austria

ÖsterreichischenEntwicklungszusammenarbeit (OEZA)

AustrianDevelopment Corporation

Letter co-signed by theGlobal AIDS Alliance

Canada

CanadianInternational Development Agency (CIDA)

Letter co-signed by ActionCanada for Population and Development, Catholics for Choice Canada and theGlobal AIDS Alliance

Denmark

Styrelsenfor Internationalt Udviklingssamarbejde (DANIDA)

DanishInternational Development Agency

Letter co-signed by Sex ogSamfund and the Global AIDS Alliance

Germany

Bundesministeriumfür wirtschaftliche Zusammen­arbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ)

FederalMinistry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Cc:Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit

Letter co-signed by theGlobal AIDS Alliance

Norway

Direktoratetfor utviklingssamarbeid (NORAD)

NorwegianAgency for Development Cooperation

Letter co-signed by Sex ogPolitikk, Forum for Kvinner og Utviklingsspørsmål (FOKUS) and the Global AIDSAlliance

Spain

AgenciaEspañola de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID)

SpanishInternational Development Agency

Letter co-signed by theGlobal AIDS Alliance

Sweden

Styrelsenför Internationellt Utvecklingssamarbete (SIDA)

SwedishInternational Development Cooperation Agency

Letter co-signed byRiksförbundet för Sexuell Upplysning (RFSU) and the Global AIDS Alliance

United Kingdom

Departmentfor International Development (DFID)

Letter co-signed byTerrence Higgins Trust and the Global AIDS Alliance

United States of America

UnitedStates Agency for International Development

Letter co-signed by Advocates for Youth, AIDS Action, Americansfor Religious Liberty, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, GayMen’s Health Crisis, the Global AIDS Alliance, the National Council of JewishWomen and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States(SIECUS)

Article License: Copyright - Article License Holder: Catholics for Choice

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