From the Center for Public Integrity comes an exhaustive report, where a dozen reporters and researchers conducted a yearlong investigation into the impact of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, in eight countries in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
Published Nov. 20 and Dec. 13, the investigation, still available at www.pub
licintegrity.org/aids, details how President Bush used PEPFAR to burnish his “compassionate conservative” credentials while enabling his administration to funnel tens of millions of dollars to Christian faith-based organizations that support his ideology of abstinence and fidelity.
Meanwhile, the number of people who become infected with HIV continues to rise in some countries, and three-quarters of them are infected through sexual intercourse. More than 450 people contracted HIV each hour last year, constituting more than 4 million new cases.
In Ethiopia, a government survey found that 70 percent of the sex workers in the capital city, Addis Ababa, were HIV-positive in 1998. Only $110,000 of PEPFAR funds was allocated in 2006-2007 for condom promotion among sex workers, truck drivers and other high-risk groups along the Djibouti corridor, Ethiopia’s main route to the seaports and an area where sex work is widespread. But almost five times that amount was allocated for abstinence and fidelity activities.
Over the entire country, PEPFAR’s budget for prevention increased between 2005 and 2006. The funding for abstinence and fidelity activities increased by 63 percent, while condom funding increased 28 percent.
With photo galleries, 100 interviews and expansive sections on each country along with profiles of the organizations that receive PEPFAR grants, “Divine Intervention” is, according to editorial projects coordinator Leah Rush, “an example of harnessing the Internet to release outstanding online journalism and fuel public dialogue about critical policy decisions.”