America decides to meddle in Brazil's HIV-prevention program. America demands Brazil sign oath condemning prostitutes. Brazil to America: "Go screw yourselves (safely)."

In early May, Brazil declared its defiance of American diktats abroad. The country's national AIDS commissioner, HIV doctor Pedro Chequer, turned down $40 million in US assistance for its fight against AIDS rather than sign a statement condemning prostitution. "For us it was an ethical issue," Chequer told The Nation. "We have to reach every segment of society, with no discrimination. Besides, no country is supposed to decide what another country must do." At a time when the Bush Administration has elected itself not only the world's cop but its pope, too, Brazil's audacity carries the shock of the new.

Over the past two years, organizations around the world have been asked to sign similar statements and to halt their advocacy for sex workers' rights, the result of restrictive language slipped into AIDS and human-trafficking bills by Representative Chris Smith, a morality crusader who began his career as director of New Jersey Right to Life....In Brazil, where prostitution is legal, the government was unwilling to turn its back on a population that's not only among the most vulnerable to HIV but also among the most active in combating it. "Sex workers are part of implementing our AIDS policy and deciding how to promote it," Chequer says. "They are our partners. How could we ask prostitutes to take a position against themselves?"

You know, I wish we hadn't reached the point where I cheer when poorer countries stick their thumb in my native land's eye. But then, Christ on a stick, how dare we tell Brazil what is and is not moral, and how dare we attempt to tamper with one of the most effective AIDS programs around? We're denying them $40 million dollars because they refused to sell out one of the most vulnerable portions of their society, a segment that, if marginalized and frozen out of AIDS prevention efforts, will become the headquarters for the disease's resurgence. We're denying them the cash, in other words, because they chose to have an effective AIDS prevention program rather than a biblically correct one.

As I said above: Christ on a stick.

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