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What Is This, the Bush Administration?

That’s what some AIDS advocates are asking following the launch of a new AIDS prevention effort from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Todd Heywood at The Michigan Messenger, TWI’s sister site.

Announced Tuesday, the $55 million initiative “aims to raise public awareness by stressing a critical statistic: One American is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, every nine and a half minutes,” Heywood writes. Most of that funding will go toward a five-year public education campaign, complete with radio commercials, online ads and airport banners. But what’s got some advocates in a huff is not the concept but the content: They say it’s reminiscent of the Bush administration’s push to highlight abstinence, monogamy and condoms as central themes of their AIDS education effort — a message that critics say is contradictory, and therefore confusing.

“Ugh–yep–looks like more of the ‘ABC’ message that was created under Bush 2,” Mark Peterson of the Michigan Poz Action Coalition wrote in an email, referring to Abstinence, Be Faithful, use Condoms…

[T]here are many different definitions of monogamy. This assumes anyone in a polyamourous relationship or those who do not conform to a [C]hristian puritan relationship norm is at more risk —that is ONLY true if one of the partners has HIV to pass to someone else and that can happen between monogamous couples too.”

Indeed, a newly launched Website includes the prominent headings: “Focus on Abstinence,” “Focus on Monogamy,” and “Focus on Condoms.” And not all AIDS advocates think that’s such a bad thing.

Craig Covey, CEO of the Michigan AIDS Coalition in Ferndale, took a different tact on the new national AIDS/HIV plan “This seems to be it could be quite inclusive,” he said. “I think for all practical purposes, abstinence, monogamy and safe sex practices are good to talk about.”

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