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US reverses restriction on Global Fund grant recipients

The US government has reversed its decision to force all international recipients of funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria to accept a policy saying they condemn commercial sex work.

Countries that receive money directly from the US government will still need to adhere to this pledge but Randall Tobias, director of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, rejected the plan to extend the policy to the 128 countries that receive grants from the Global Fund.

The US contributed a third of the money currently available through the Global Fund, which has committed US$3 billion to more than 3,000 AIDS organizations throughout the world. Organizations like the Global Fund had the right to refuse restrictions from donor countries until the US Justice Department amended the Bush Administration's global AIDS initiative last year.

The announcement from Tobias comes just weeks after Brazil refused millions of dollars in grants from the US government because of its reluctance to denounce commercial sex work. This decision was based on the need to work closely with affected, and often stigmatized, groups like sex workers as an essential part of the country's successful HIV prevention strategy. Brazil's decision will not be affected by the change in US policy since the funds were not administered through the Global Fund.