The Realities that ABC Ignores

Last week, in preparation for the international AIDS conference that kicks off in Toronto on August 13, Plan International released a report called "Circle of Hope: A Global Framework for Tackling HIV and AIDS." Among other findings, the report highlights that marriage is often more of a risk than a remedy for women seeking to protect themselves against HIV and that fragile economies mixed with gender discrimination make abstinence an unsustainable strategy for women, who also find it close to impossible to insist on their partners' fidelity or condom use. The report exposes the Bush administration's panacea of "ABC" as the woefully inadequate strategy it has always been. Its findings won't come as a surprise to those who deal on a daily basis with the complex realities of HIV/AIDS.

Syringes in Sacramento

Public health advocates in California have been working to prevent the spread of disease among injection-drug users by making needles available at pharmacies without a prescription. Unfortunately, when the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors had the opportunity to legalize sales of needles last year, they gave in to misinformation and fear that increasing access to clean needles would increase drug use. Studies have found that increased syringe access decreases infection such as HIV and Hepatitis C - not that it encourages people to do more drugs.

Decision-making in the Dark

When a government agency makes a decision, they complete an unbiased analysis based on scientific data... right? I mean, the FDA decides whether Americans have access to various medications - so one would think that they must really be grounded in science and not be influenced by little things like politics. No?

Court documents recently released by the Center for Reproductive Rights confirm that FDA officials decided against approving Plan B for over-the-counter use WELL BEFORE the data review was finished by agency scientists.

The View Erupts Over Plan B

"Everybody has strong opinions... There are many other arguments people could give you. I think the most important thing, which is what we see here today, is we've got to be able to have these discussions and listen to other people's opinions and not go so crazy," said Barbara Walters, host of The View, after a segment she introduced to discuss Plan B was high-jacked by the anti-choice passion of guest panelist and GOP pinup Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

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Don’t Believe the Hype

Editorial Note: With this post Rewire welcomes its newest staff blogger, Tyler LePard. Tyler has worked in and volunteered with a variety of reproductive health organizations, as well as in other progressive causes. She has her BA from Wesleyan University and a Masters in Public Policy from George Washington Univeristy. We are pleased she has joined our team and we know you will look forward to reading her posts.

If you happened to read a press release from Instead Sciences, Inc. on Business Wire a couple of days ago, you may have gotten very excited about the first approved microbicide about to hit the market. But hold on a minute - settle down and prepare for disappointment. This was just a misunderstanding - a tweaking, if you will, by some PR people.

When Tommy Thompson (the Chair of Instead Sciences, Inc.) said "Amphora -- which already has FDA safety clearance for human use -- is in the best position to be the first approved microbicide", apparently what he really meant is that Amphora has been approved as a sexual lubricant... and that they might know something about its effectiveness in preventing infection (such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea) by the year 2010. MAYBE.

Hyde and Seek

In 1976, three years after the Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion in the United States, Congress passed the Hyde amendment--which, in one fell swoop, overturned Roe v. Wade for millions of low-income American women. The amendment, named for Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL and 30 years later, still fighting access to safe abortion), forbids federal funding for abortion unless a woman's pregnancy is life-threatening, or unless it's is a result of rape or incest. Before the passage of the Hyde amendment, federal Medicaid paid for one-third of all abortions. Since 1977, it has paid for virtually none.

A Plan for Plan B: FDA and the Art of Illusion

Marilyn Keefe is Vice President of Public Policy for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association

Any amateur magician seeking to master the art of illusion should contact the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for lessons, as the agency has all but perfected its smoke and mirrors routine. For the past three years, FDA has succeeded in tricking the audience - in this case, the American public - into believing that it is taking real steps toward making Plan B emergency contraception available over-the-counter when in reality the agency has been standing still, a feat that may well rival any David Copperfield performance.

Family Research Council’s Blog is Confused About Plan B

I’ll just start with the assumption that many of you (since you’re reading this blog) also read the blog from the Family Research Council. There may be a few of you here and there who don’t read it every day, yeah, sure. Fine. But those of you who do may have noticed that they, too, are providing some coverage of the Senate hearings for Andrew Von Eschenbach, and I bet you took issue with a response to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) posted there yesterday.