CDC Asks Stop AIDS Project To Discontinue Some HIV-Prevention Programs
The CDC in a letter sent Friday to the San Francisco-based Stop AIDS Project said that some of the group's HIV prevention workshops violate a Public Health Service Act ban on encouraging sexual activity and asked the group to discontinue the workshops, four months after an agency review found that the workshops were acceptable, USA Today reports. CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding wrote in a letter in February that the CDC and the HHS Office of Inspector General agreed that the workshops are scientifically accurate and in compliance with CDC content guidelines (Sternberg, USA Today, 6/16). The CDC conducted the latest review as a result of a request made by a legislative committee led by Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 6/14). The letter sent on Friday said that the Stop AIDS Project must discontinue many of its workshops and threatened to revoke as much as $500,000 in federal grants if the group fails to comply, the Washington Post reports (Connolly, Washington Post, 6/14).
In a separate letter to the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Gerberding asked the department to improve its monitoring of HIV prevention programs and reject projects with titles or descriptions that "directly promote or encourage sexual activity" (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/16). In another letter sent to Souder on Friday, Gerberding said that the CDC plans to increase its oversight of HIV prevention programs and inform such programs of their responsibility to not promote sexual activity (Los Angeles Times, 6/14).
Stop AIDS Project spokesperson Shana Krochmal said that she was "shocked" by the CDC letter and added that the workshops sponsored by the group "are based on the CDC's own model for doing community-level HIV interventions," the Post reports (Washington Post, 6/14). Terje Anderson, executive director of the National Association of People with AIDS, in a letter to Gerberding on Friday criticized the CDC decision. Anderson wrote in the letter, "While the obsession with Stop AIDS programs that some have can probably best be characterized as prurient, the chilling impact it has on community-based prevention efforts across the country is frightening and unacceptable." Tom Skinner, a CDC spokesperson, did not address whether Gerberding "faced political pressure to take a tough stance" against the Stop AIDS Project and said that the letters sent Friday "are pretty clear and speak for themselves" (Los Angeles Times, 6/14).