Friday, November 18, 2011
Policy Guidances From Obama Administration Encourage Linkages Between HIV and Family Planning Programs
Guttmacher Institute: More Work Needed to Bridge the Gap Between HIV and Family Planning Services Worldwide, by Rebecca Wind:
A series of policy guidances recently issued by the Obama administration strongly endorse linkages between HIV and family planning programs in developing countries, but a failure to ensure that women in HIV treatment programs have access to contraceptives is undermining efforts to integrate these two critical health services, according to “Linkages Between HIV and Family Planning Services Under PEPFAR: Room for Improvement,” by Heather Boonstra.
The new guidances fully endorse the provision by family planning programs of HIV counseling and testing, as well as referrals for HIV care and treatment, and they recommend the use of President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funds for these purposes. The guidances also specifically acknowledge that preventing unintended pregnancy is vital to lowering the rate of new HIV infections. Therefore, they state, women in HIV programs should have access to family planning counseling and referrals for contraceptives.
However, PEPFAR funding for contraceptives themselves is prohibited, even in places where there is no corresponding family planning program available to which women can be referred. A substantial number of PEPFAR-funded countries that do not receive U.S. funding for family planning—including Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland—have HIV-prevalence rates that are among the highest in the world. . . .