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Brazil rejects US grant money

A national commission of scientists, cabinet members, and activists in Brazil recently passed up a US$40 million grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) because accepting the funding required the country to sign a pledge denouncing prostitution, which is not illegal in Brazil. AIDS outreach in Brazil is based on acceptance of marginalized groups like commercial sex workers, injection drug users, and other at-risk groups and working closely with those at risk makes effective HIV prevention possible. The conditions put on this funding were seen as a contradiction to these successful programs. The country's approach to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment is often seen as a model and sex worker groups are a strong advocacy force.

Brazil is the first country to refuse US money due to restrictions imposed by the Bush administration. Uganda, a recipient of US funding through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, has recently been criticized by Human Rights Watch for changing its HIV/AIDS prevention programs to emphasize abstinence due to pressure from the US government.

"Many NGOs in Brazil are supporting the Ministry of Health position to refuse money from USAID. I believe the most important thing is to have a clear understanding about institutional interests, independently of who is the sponsor," says Octavio Valente of Grupo Pela Vidda in Rio.

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All articles written by Kristen Jill Kresge. Spotlight article adapted from article by Sheri Fink (IAVI Report 9 (2), 2005)