04 May 2005
The BBC: Poor fact checking or outright lies?
I took a moment today to scan the BBC's online news and came across the headline "Brazil turns down US Aids funds" (sic) and I decided to read it. Lo' and behold I find a story that contains the following:
Washington says it is important not to promote prostitution, and does not want any of its funds to be spent on treating prostitutes.
[emphasis added]

Much of the spending is being channelled to programmes that advocate abstinence,
rather than condom use, and cannot be used for abortions or to treat prostitutes.
[emphasis added]

Now, being a concientious news reader, I thought to myself "That can't be right can it? The United States is denying grant money for AIDS to treat prostitutes?" I checked other news sources for the same story and found results at CNN, ABC, and even The Guardian. Oddly none of them had any mention of a restriction in the use of money to treat prostitutes. (They also (not a one) didn't include something else in the BBC article that we'll get to a little later)Then I went out and did my own research. Bopping over the USAID website I did a simple search on the word "Prostitution" and there, as the first result was a link to a document titled "AAPD 04-04 Implementation of the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tubercu-losis and Malaria Act of 2003 – Eligibility for Assistance, Limitation on the Use of Funds and Opposition to Prostitution and Sex Trafficking"

Seemed easy enough to find. Could it be this document might tell me what the true position of USAID and the United States government was on this issue? Opening the .pdf file and scanning through it I very quickly found the following (it's only four pages long after all)

II. Limitation on the Use of Funds The following must be included in the Standard Provisions in any grant to a public international organization, any grant or cooperative agreement to a U.S. or non-U.S. non-governmental organization, and any contract that includes FY04 HIV/AIDS funds.
In addition, it is to be included when any existing assistance agreement or contract is amended to add FY04 HIV/AIDS funding.
None of the funds made available under this agreement may be used to promote or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution or trafficking. Nothing in the preceding sentence shall be construed to preclude the provision to individuals of palliative care, treatment, or post-exposure pharmaceutical prophylaxis, and necessary pharmaceuticals and commodities, including test kits, condoms, and, when proven effective, microbicides.[emphasis added]

That seems pretty explicit wouldn't you say? Unless my reading skills fail me, that seems to say that monies SHALL be spent on treating prostitutes but monies SHALL NOT be spent promoting or advocating for the legalization or practice of prostitution or sex trafficing

Hmm, did the BBC just not check their facts or are they out and out distorting the truth?

Oh, remember the other little thing that CNN, ABC, The Guardian et al didn't report? It was the following from Mr. Paul Chequer Brazil's "top Aids official":

Mr Chequer also called for official recognition of prostitution as a profession in Brazil.
Sex workers should have the right to collect state welfare payments like other workers, he said.
"That clause shows disrespect for sex workers. We advocate the legalisation of the profession, with the right to collect INSS [social security] and a pension," said Mr Chequer.

So, why do you think Mr. Chequer really turned down the money?
A Republican in San Francisco (Yes, he's under deep cover) relays his tales of interest... ...ok, "interest" is a strong and subjective word but you get the point.
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