Tuesday, November 07, 2006

U.S. pays for condoms overseas?

Last year NPR ran a report on about how some of the AIDS activists around the world were upset about the change of tactics of the United States government, trying to promote abstinence over use of condoms. That story prompted many questions, including: The United States government buys condoms for people in foreign nations? How long has this been going on? Is this program effective to preventing AIDS in those countries? Most of my concern was that U.S. tax payer money was going towards the purchase of condoms that were handed out to people in other countries. That old stereotypical argument was building up inside me. "We have enough problems here in the United States that that money could be used for first." Solve our own problems first before trying to help others. But I know that we will never be a problem free nation and should help out where we can around the world.

Washington Post had an article back in February reporting the cost of this program called President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which spent $5.2 billion dollars in the through 2004 and 2005.

"About $66 million was spent on the provision of condoms and prevention messages emphasizing their use." $66 million is a lot of money for condoms, if I were to head down to the drug store that would buy me 107 million condoms.

So who is receiving these gifts from the U.S. government? "The vast majority of the money is being spent in 12 African nations and in Guyana, Haiti and Vietnam, although the program is paying for AIDS work in more than 100 other countries, including Russia and India."

Only time will tell if this program of handing out condoms is helping slow the spread of AIDS around the world. In part two of this series I plan to dig deeper and find who is profiting from this project and why.

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