(WOMENSENEWS)–The federal Department of Health and Human Services, headed by Bush appointee Tommy Thompson, issued an order to review all grants to federally funded groups that are providing AIDS prevention, treatment, and research. At the same time, the agency has launched an investigation to determine if certain AIDS education programs promote sexual activity or are too sexually explicit.

Sex education advocates believe that the move reflects the Bush administration’s policy of promoting abstinence-only education above all else. Advocates also criticize the agency for failing to conduct audits of abstinence-only programs–even after a federal court ruled that the state of Louisiana was illegally using its federal abstinence funding to promote religion.

The agency-ordered investigations involve such groups as the San Francisco-based Stop AIDS Project and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The orders come on the heels of a $1 million review of the center that was just completed a few months ago. The center also recently removed information sheets from its Web site about the effectiveness of condoms in preventing the spread of HIV and summaries of non-abstinence based sex education from their “Programs That Work” section, according to The Washington Post.

“The research didn’t become less valid; the data wasn’t outdated,” James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, told The Washington Post. Advocates for Youth is a nonprofit organization that offers AIDS services to young people in the U.S. and abroad. “What occurred was clearly a political move.”

President Bush has requested that abstinence-only education funding be increased to $135 million in fiscal year 2003. He has argued that he is only trying to put abstinence education on par with other forms of sex education, because abstinence is the only sure way to prevent pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Most of the money Bush is referring to is Title X funding, which provides breast exams and other medical services to poor women, and does not go to school-based educational programs, according The New Republic.

For more information:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

STOP AIDS Project:

Gay Men’s Health Crisis
“Bush Administration Censors HIV Prevention Messages and
Undermines AIDS Prevention Efforts”: