The State Department announced a new five-year strategy for the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) this week on World AIDS Day. The plan (see PDF) indicates a shift away from the Bush administration's ABC (abstinence, be faithful, and as a last resort use condoms) prevention program and toward expanding family planning as an HIV prevention measure.
One of the goals listed in the written strategy is to expand "integration of HIV prevention, care and support, and treatment services with family planning and reproductive health services, so that women living with HIV can access necessary care, and so that all women know how to protect themselves from HIV infection." The plan also explicitly aims to expand "prevention strategies that have been proven effective and targeting interventions to most at-risk populations with high incidence rates." Condom distribution and usage is the most effective barrier method to prevent the spread of HIV. The plan indicates that although men who have sex with men, IV drug users, and sex workers are still high-risk populations, "women and
girls continue to face disproportionate impact of new infections."
Ambassador Eric Goosby, who is also the State Department's Global AIDS Coordinator, said in a briefing, "We are going to start targeting high-risk populations as opposed to general public service announcements that have dominated PEPFAR 1 (the first phase of PEPFAR) as one of the central strategies - the abstinence, be faithful type of activity. We're linking family planning, reproductive health services to our prevention efforts because they are more effective. Those needs are going largely unaddressed, and where interfaced with populations that need both, we should overlap them."
Media Resources: PEPFAR 5 Year Strategy; State Department Briefing 12/1/09; Choices Campus Blog 12/1/09
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .