Prevention and Education
The government has an obligation to support sound public health policy by promoting effective HIV prevention. Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, our government's response to the disease has all too frequently been driven by ideology — homophobia, transphobia, sexism and racism — as well as hostility towards IV drug users and sex workers. The government's public health efforts should be driven by science, not ideology or religious belief, and should protect all of us, particularly those in vulnerable populations.
At the ACLU, we work to make certain that the government’s response to the HIV epidemic is based on scientific principles and evidence. We support age-appropriate and accurate sex education, oppose government funding of religiously-infused programs that fail to appropriately advance HIV education and curb transmission, and support evidence-based prevention approaches like syringe exchange.
A Step Forward in the Fight Against AIDS (2011 blog post)
In the summer of 2011, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the "anti-prostitution pledge," a part of the U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act. This unconstitutional requirement demanded that foreign organizations working to prevent HIV/AIDS formally pledge their opposition to sex work, even as those organizations sought to build important bridges with sex worker advocates.
Learn more about this case.
ACLUF v. USAID - Complaint (2010 legal document)
In 2010, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to obtain public documents detailing its overseas abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which promoted religiously infused materials and messages. These materials were funded through HIV/AIDS grants, and in the face of a growing global HIV/AIDS crisis, we argue that USAID not only violated basic constitutional principles by promoting government-funded religious activities, but also unconscionably put young people's health and lives at risk.
Learn more about this case.
NYCLU Criticizes Ban on Condom Demonstrations in Sex Education Classes in New York (2004 press release)
In November 2004, the New York Civil Liberties Union praised the New York City Department of Education for revising the sex education curriculum but criticized its refusal to include recommended condom demonstrations in a new curriculum.
Landmark Survey Finds Majority of California's Schools in Violation of Sex Education Laws (2003 press release)
The first statewide survey of sex education in California's public schools in almost a decade reveals that 85 percent of schools violate one or more laws governing this subject, in part because many teachers and administrators find state laws governing sex education confusing and inconsistent. The survey also shows that parents and schools overwhelmingly support sex education.
California has one of the country's strongest laws ensuring comprehensive sex education.
The ACLU has long fought to end misguided government policies that restrict access to important HIV prevention methods like syringe exchange. In 2009, the federal government lifted the ban on Washington D.C. using its own funds to support these proven programs; unfortunately, the ban was reinstated in 2011 We will continue our advocacy on this issue.