Creep of the Week: Randall Tobias

By |2018-01-15T18:12:37-05:00June 30th, 2005|News|

It’s no secret that HIV/AIDS is an enormous epidemic in Africa. Surely everything possible is being done to prevent more infections and to help those living with the disease. No one would let party politics or ideology get in the way of saving lives.
Not so. Randall Tobias, Bush’s global AIDS czar, is taking the administration’s call for all-abstinence-all-the-time programming to the global stage.
“It’s only a matter of time before the impact of abstinence-only programs can be measured in needless new HIV infections,” said Jonathan Cohen, an HIV/AIDS researcher with Human Rights Watch, in the June 16 issue of Rolling Stone.
According to Tobias, condoms are bad, abstinence is good, and, oh yeah, condoms are bad.
In January, Tobias issued orders that make it harder for relief groups to distribute condoms in Africa and, according to Rolling Stone, there’s a movement being pushed by Republicans to give Tobias “the power to divert even more money toward promoting abstinence.”
Groups like Focus on the Family are clapping their very white hands in joy over this because, as they say, groups that distribute condoms are “leading Africans into immorality,” according to Rolling Stone. Money once going to established relief groups that promote condom use is now being funneled into right-wing abstinence-only groups.
The problem isn’t abstinence. Sure, abstinence is an effective means of preventing HIV/AIDS transmission. The problem is that Tobias is pushing abstinence at the expense of other proven prevention methods. Abstinence-only doesn’t look at the big picture. It doesn’t acknowledge that not only do people have sex, but for women in some parts of Africa, there isn’t a whole lot of choice in the matter.
With Tobias at the helm, the Bush administration is headed toward undoing progress in places like Uganda, which has dramatically decreased HIV infection rates by pushing condom use.
Not only is Bush not keeping his pledge of $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa, things seem to have gotten worse on the continent since his promise. And at this rate, it looks like things are going to continue to get worse.
It is clear that this administration cares more about ideology than results. While people are dying, this stance is positively criminal.
Call the White House at 202-456-1111 and contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives (find them at http://www.vote-smart.org) and give Tobias a job performance review.

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