The State Department gave a prominent anti-LGBTQ religious organization a grant to combat HIV/AIDS in South Africa through a religious program that pressures kids into pledging that they will abstain from sex until marriage.
An affiliate of Focus on the Family (FOTF) received a $49,505 grant under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) from the State Department’s Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator on September 18, 2017, while the department was under the leadership of then-Secretary Rex Tillerson, according to USA Spending. Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family is tasked with using these funds to prevent HIV and AIDS by implementing its global abstinence-only purity pledge program, called “No Apologies,” to 7,000 “learners” in 90 schools in South Africa between October 2017 and September 2018.
South Africa has the largest HIV epidemic in the world, with nearly 19 percent of its population, a total of 7.1 million people, living with the deadly sexually transmitted infection as of 2016, according to the U.K.-based global HIV and AIDS organization Avert.
PEPFAR was created in 2003 under the George W. Bush administration to combat the global epidemic — an effort Focus on the Family’s leadership has frequently criticized.
Focus on the Family’s founder and chairman emeritus, James Dobson, has long used his position with the organization to fight against effective efforts to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS, to demonize LGBTQ people, and even to oppose global funding from PEPFAR, suggesting that the money would go to promote “wickedness” and prostitution.
Experts say that the group’s purity pledge approach is completely ineffective and in fact detrimental.
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