SPW has contacted Serra Sippel, director of CHANGE: Center for Health and Gender Equity, and asked her what are the practical implications of the positive reaction expressed by the Obama administration to the critiques raised during the US UPR in relation to the prostitution pledge attached to the American HIV global policy.
In her view:
In terms of policy shifts the impact will still be limited to what the administration because the prostitution pledge is enshrined in the law. But yet, the US response to the UPR means that now, at least, advocates have a strong tool to go back to the administration asking them to do more that what they are doing now. It is important to note that PEPFAR has already “soften” the norms including the right to access services for sex workers in its five year strategy. Now there is more space for advocates to pressure the administration to ask Congress to remove the Anti Prostitution Pledge (APLO) from law. Advocates can also once again ask the administration to refrain from implementing the APLO, even when it is still in the policy documents and the law itself.
It is interesting to obsreve that the more flexible position of the U.S. government in relation to HIV and prostitution was made public exactly in the week preceding the Obama visit to Brazil. As it is well known, in 2005, the Brazilian government suspended the Brazil – USAID agreement in the area of funding for HIV prevention, exactly because Brazilian governmental agencies and civil society groups — then represented in the National AIDS Commission — did not accept the imposition of the prostitution clause required to renew the agreement.
This is undoubtedly a virtuous coincidence. In contrast, as it can be verified in the letter released yesterday by the Working Group on Intellectual Property (read in Portuguese), the Obama visit also implies enormous risks in the area of patents of drugs to treat HIV / AIDS , which also compromise the principle adopted in Brazil long ago with regard to free and universal access to ARVs.