This is wonderful news:
The Bush administration has decided to end its funding of a groundbreaking program that has sought to curb the spread of HIV by offering subsidized circumcisions to men in Swaziland.
A statement issued Thursday night by the U.S. Agency for International Development said that it had only recently learned of the program and that it violated government policy supporting study of circumcision but not services offering the procedure.
In its statement, USAID said the funding “should not have occurred, and there will be no further circumcisions performed with U.S. Government funds until the PEPFAR Scientific Steering Committee reviews data from ongoing clinical trials and considers any recommendations on male circumcision from the normative international Agencies.” PEPFAR is the Bush anti-AIDS program.
According to the article taxpayer money only paid for adult circumcisions. That makes me
happier less angry, but barely. I’m not sure where funding AIDS prevention in Africa falls within the Constitutional responsibilities granted to the United States government, but that’s not my issue. I’m not going to approach the scientific implications, either. I’m still not denying them; I just don’t believe they’re enough for the reasons I’ve explained in the past.
I applaud this primarily because I don’t believe circumcision is the most effective HIV prevention for the Third World. Economic development would have a far greater impact. Clean water would have a far greater impact. If we’re going to be involved, we need to set the foundation for allowing these men (and women) to help themselves. They need some hope that engaging in safer sex will result in a better life, a life with opportunity.
This means no longer propping up corrupt dictators who squander our foreign aid. That’s easily said, and I accept that. The details, which I haven’t provided beyond the most basic form, are important. But it seems obvious that we need to remove diseased regimes. Removing healthy foreskins only hides the symptoms.