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Reuters Examines Debate Among Non-Profit Groups Over Anti-Prostitution Pledge Law

“A Supreme Court case that challenges a law requiring anti-prostitution policies for HIV/AIDS programs seeking federal money has generated a split among non-profit groups that counsel sex workers overseas,” Reuters reports. “The case involves a 2003 law that bars funding for groups that work on HIV/AIDS prevention but do not have a policy opposing prostitution and sex trafficking,” the news service writes, adding, “It has pitted two non-governmental organizations that operate programs overseas, backed by umbrella organizations representing others like them, against 46 organizations that have sided with the federal government in defending the law.” Reuters continues, “The organizations challenging the provision on First Amendment grounds do not want to take a stand on prostitution. They say the law interferes with their work providing advice and counseling to prostitutes about the risks of HIV infection.”

“The court on April 22 will consider whether the requirement, which has not been enforced since a 2006 injunction, is valid under the U.S. Constitution,” according to Reuters. “Some entities that receive funding, including the World Health Organization, were exempted from the provision,” the news service notes. Reuters recounts the history of the law and quotes several representatives of organizations on both sides of the issue. UNAIDS “supports the groups challenging the law,” Reuters notes, adding, “It has filed a brief … noting that programs ‘work best when they involve, and do not stigmatize, the affected populations'” (Hurley, 4/10).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.