U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Anti-Prostitution Pledge

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The U.S. Supreme Court released an opinion today in Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International finding that a U.S. federal law requiring any group that accepted federal funding for combatting HIV/AIDS (and certain other diseases) to adopt a policy prohibiting prostitution.  The Court (in a 6-2 opinion) found that the law violates the First Amendment (freedom of speech) of the U.S. Constitution.  A preliminary legal analysis of the opinion can be found on SCOTUSblog.  Amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court by the UNAIDS Secretariat and  Deans and professors of public health organizations argued that engaging with sex workers is essential to reducing HIV infection rates.  Durbar (DMSC), a sex worker union in Kolkata, India grew out of efforts by medical professionals to reduce the transmission of HIV.  The experience of this organization in addressing HIV/AIDs highlights the contradictions between taking an anti-prostitution stance and reducing HIV transmission rates.