Leading Christian conservatives are pressing Congress to limit federal grants to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. They doubt the Swiss-based organization's commitment to the ABC model of AIDS prevention: Abstain from sex, Be faithful to one partner, or use a Condom.
"Few Global Fund grantees support abstinence and faithfulnessdespite a 2003 UNAIDS report that concluded there is no evidence that condom use alone has resulted in lower HIV infection rates in a general population, especially in sub-Sahara Africa," said leaders from 30 organizations. They included Focus on the Family Action, Care Net, Concerned Women for America, and the American Family Association.
The statement came as Congress this summer debated 2007 spending priorities. The critics urged Congress to limit contributions for the Global Fund to $300 million, the amount President Bush has recommended. Pending legislation would set aside much more. Conservative activists recommended that any additional funds go to the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). For the coming year, total AIDS funding from the federal government may increase by $900 million, boosting 2007 spending toward $4 billion.
Global Fund officials vigorously disputed the letter from conservatives. A rebuttal statement pointed out that Global Fund executive director Richard Feachem has said: "The ABC model has been proven to be one of the most effective strategies to prevent the spread of HIV. As such, the Global Fund is currently channeling hundreds of millions of dollars to countries around the world to support ABC programs."
Critics also prodded the Global Fund for not directing more funding to faith-based programs. The Global Fund responded by touting their work with World Vision, the Salvation Army, Youth for Christ, and Scripture Union.
In Zambia, where an estimated 16.5 percent of adults are infected with HIV, local Christians work with both the Global Fund and PEPFAR, according to Baptist physician Simon Mphuka, director of programs at CHAZ (Churches Health Association Zambia). "The strategy that CHAZ uses is comprehensive, so we believe in the ABC approach," Mphuka told CT. His group has recently met performance goals, and the Global Fund has more than doubled its next grant.
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