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39 Noted Performing Artists Urge Congress to Fix Flaws in President's Global AIDS Plan

Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA) Organizes Artists Sign-On Letter as

Part of Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) HIV Prevention

Advocacy Coalition

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Last week, 39 celebrity activists and Artists for a New South Africa issued a letter to members of Congress, urging them to improve the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR currently restricts 1/3 of U.S. global HIV prevention funds to abstinence-until-marriage programs that are proven ineffective and fail to address the specific risk factors unique to women and girls.

"Already 20 million members of our human family have died of AIDS," the artists stated. "By empowering the most vulnerable populations with scientifically-based prevention methods, millions of lives can be saved." (Full letter posted at

The diverse list of celebrity signers includes actors Chris Rock, Alfre Woodard, Gillian Anderson, Ed Harris & Amy Madigan, Dule Hill, Mary Steenburgen & Ted Danson, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Noah Gray-Cabey, Alexandra Paul, Jurnee Smollett, and Sheryl Lee Ralph, musicians Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, and Peter Yarrow, among others.

The bipartisan Protection Against Transmission of HIV for Women and Youth (PATHWAY) Act [H.R. 1713] in the House and the Senate's HIV Prevention Act [S. 1553] would strike the abstinence-until marriage spending requirement on PEPFAR. Additionally, the PATHWAY Act, introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, requires the President to develop a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy to address the vulnerabilities of women and girls.

"There is no reason why someone should be more vulnerable to AIDS because she is a woman, but the fact remains that women and girls in developing countries are bearing the brunt of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic," said Congresswoman Lee. "Our prevention efforts must be sensitive to the growing gender disparity and must focus on providing women and girls the education and resources they need to protect themselves."

"It is critical to demand justice for those who are harmed by U.S. policies, including funding restrictions like the abstinence-until-marriage earmark," said Serra Sippel, Acting Executive Director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). "CHANGE applauds these artists for standing in solidarity and calling on the U.S. government to put aside ideology and ensure that U.S.-funded HIV prevention programs are comprehensive."

SOURCE Artists for a New South Africa
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