17 December 2009

Wrapped in Science

From today's FT (emphasis added):

The new head of Washington’s programme to tackle HIV and Aids around the world has drawn a line under the moralistic approach supported by its founder, George W. Bush, the former US president.

Eric Goosby outlined a new five-year strategy for the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), which has so far provided $25bn (€17bn, £15bn), and said future programmes to prevent HIV infection would be those supported by the best scientific evidence.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Dr Goosby said that in discussions with policymakers and politicians, “I will always wrap myself in the science as the justification of decision-making. I will not factor in an ideological rationale.

The FT also reported:
Dr Goosby also made clear his agency would not fund abortions.
No ideology there, all wrapped up in science.


  1. "However, the strategy remains scant on detail, and does not emphasise these high-risk groups in its documents. Pepfar is still constrained by a legal dispute around a “prostitution pledge” that requires recipients to condemn commercial sex workers."
    Sounds like, whatever it is wrapped in, the filling has a lot of holes.

  2. “No ideology there, all wrapped up in science.”

    Those who support abortion for the sake of convenience have nothing but ideology to stand on.

    The science couldn’t be more clear:

    The beginning of life is -- by definition -- a transformational event. And, the ONLY transformational event is when two haploid cells merge to form a diploid cell -- at conception. EVERYTHING beyond that point is a transitional event which varies in timing with each pregnancy. Every other attempt to define when life begins is a purely political contrivance whose sole intent is to rationalize homicide. I choose the word homicide carefully. Because, even with abortion, there are certain instances where there is such a thing as “justifiable homicide” -- for example when the mother’s life is clearly in danger.

    But, the overwhelming majority of abortion homicides are committed for nothing more than convenience. This link describes one of the most appalling examples of homicidal convenience.

    P.S.) Like all other activist driven agendas, domestic HIV/AIDS funding is dramatically out of proportion to the impact on domestic public health. So, yes, HIV/AIDS funding is absolutely driven by politics rather than science (or math).

  3. Roger,

    I wasn't aware of any science which establishes that abortions reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS. If his job is to attack HIV, why would he fund abortions?

    Perhaps the ideology peeking out here is not Goosby's.

  4. Stan,

    I assume an HIV+ woman would likely give birth to an HIV+ baby. An abortion allows the possibility to prevent a probable short and miserable life for such a child. I suppose it would not do much to reduce the spread of HIV, but might be considered a humane treatment. Just a few thoughts.

  5. ad,
    The risk of the infant contracting HIV from the mother can be reduced to between 1-2% with proper pre-natal care and anti-retroviral treatment. Children who do contract HIV can live for twenty years or more with proper treatment. So, maybe treating the disease is a better investment than killing the infant (98 children out of 100).

  6. Even Third World women should have a right to chose whether or not they want to terminate a pregnancy. Its even more racist and colonizing when the cloak of science is used to further Christian morality.

  7. I doubt that the inclusion of funding for abortion is something that is in the power of Dr Goolsby to change. That had been official US policy for all aid funding as set by congress for some time.
    In his tour of Africa last year Bush kept saying something like "See what works and do more of it". That sounds like good health science to me.
    The dreaded "abstinance" was part of the "ABC" program that started in Botswana and similar concepts were used successfully in Uganda, longbefore the PEPFAR funding. Botswana, Uganda, UNAIDS, and until now Pepfar all have had the approach that reducing/delaying activities that put you at risk was better for individuals, but that reducing the risk of dangerous activity (as with condoms for those who have multiple partners) was essential for all who continue to do it.
    The aids charity avert.org has a page on prevention strategies that outlines this controvery