Calcutta women protest over US aid conditions

Thousands of women staged a silent protest in Calcutta on Friday to press New Delhi to fight a U.S. law setting conditions on aid to fight HIV/AIDS.

The law requires groups receiving HIV/AIDS funding to condemn prostitution and sex trafficking and have campaigns against them. Critics say the measure will undermine campaigns to fight AIDS and HIV.

“It will not fight prostitution, but only marginalise sex workers and send them underground,” Smarajit Jana, from the international aid agency, CARE. “This will definitely aggravate the AIDS situation in various countries and destroy anti-AIDS programmes worldwide.”

More than 5.1 million people in India have HIV/AIDS, second only to South Africa. The government said this week the rate of new infections slowed to 28,000 in 2004 from more than half a million the previous year.

But activists contest the surprising drop and the government has conceded its data “may not be exactly accurate”.

Brazil says it will refuse millions of dollars from the United States to fight AIDS unless the condition is dropped.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 14, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.