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AIDS Czar is gone but his deadly legacy is not

by Jill Morrison

It would be far too easy to joke about the resignation of Randall L. Tobias, the Bush administration’s AIDS Czar, amid allegations that he had hired a D.C. escort service, but “only to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage.”  Yes -- Tobias is the architect of a policy that requires all federally funded organizations battling the global AIDS epidemic to sign a statement condemning prostitution and sex-trafficking.

But hold your jokes about Randy.  He has done real damage to real women across the globe.  We take no pleasure (okay, a little) in his downfall, because his policy has undoubtedly resulted in women being denied access to information and services that could have saved their lives.  Women will contract a deadly and preventable disease all in the name of furthering a religio-moral agenda that is preached but apparently not practiced.

Tobias’ outrageous policy has already been upheld by the Eighth Circuit, under the “golden rule” – he with the gold, rules.  According to the court, organizations are not “forced” to make an anti-prostitution pledge; they “only” have to do it if they want money to provide lifesaving care to desperately needy communities.  Nope-no coercion there.

In another bit of sad irony that isn’t getting nearly as much press as the “condo” line, Tobias claims that he had stopped using the services of the now-infamous “D.C. Madame” and had switched to “one with Central American gals.”  Tobias apparently likes women of color enough to be served by them, but not enough to spare them a death sentence?  I am at a loss for words.

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