High court to review HIV funding ban

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 4, 2013

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the federal government can withhold funding from HIV/AIDS prevention programs if organizations sponsoring the programs fail to adopt policies opposing prostitution and sex trafficking.

The provision that prevention groups accept the stances was part of a 2003 law that approved billions of dollars in aid to organizations overseas that fight infectious diseases. The law’s provision cites prostitution and sex trafficking as contributing to the spread of HIV.

New York-based Alliance for Open Society International sued, saying the provision violates free-speech rights of organizations. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, ruling that the provision falls well beyond what is permissible conditions on the receipt of government funds and that it “compels recipients to espouse the government’s viewpoint.”

The Supreme Court on Jan. 11 agreed to take up the case. A date for oral arguments has not yet been scheduled.

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