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.

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