The government of the United States is over $17 trillion in debt. The debt increases an average of $2.59 billion per day. With the economic crisis reaching such historic levels, one would imagine that the federal government would be rushing to impose financial barriers on the spending, enacting austerity measures with haste, lest the country run headlong into financial ruin.
Despite the rapid approach of the cliff, Washington continues pushing the pedal to the metal, awarding a grant worth over $3 million to keep Mexican prostitutes safe from disease.
A project of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), university researches are paid to study the HIV risks among Mexican sex workers and their “non-commercial partners,” that is to say, sexual partners who are not also clients.
For five years, the American taxpayer will pay professors at the University of California at San Diego to study the sexual habits of these prostitutes and how their behavior contributes to the spread of HIV, particularly among those men that don’t pay for their services.
Since 2009, this study has received grants of more than $500,000 a year, and the money will continue to flow through 2014, the last year of the study.
According to information provided on the project’s data sheet at the NIH, “The overall goal of this study is to study the context and epidemiology of HIV, STIs [sexually transmitted infections] and associated risk behaviors among high risk female sex workers (FSWs) and their non-commercial male partners in two Mexico-US border cities. Preliminary data collected by our binational team over the past 5 years suggest that FSWs' non-commercial partners may be significant drivers of HIV/STI acquisition and/or their re-infection, which is supported by literature in other countries.”
The NIH lists four goals of the study:
Aim 1: To examine the a) context and b) patterns of high risk sexual and substance using behaviors among high risk FSWs and their main non- commercial male partners, both within and outside of the partnerships, using a mixed-methods approach;
Aim 2: To determine prevalence of HIV and specific STIs (i.e., syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, HSV-2) and associated correlates at the individual and partner level;
Aim 3: To prospectively identify predictors of STI incidence and their attributable risks at the individual and partner level;
Aim 4: To determine the feasibility of conducting a behavioral intervention trial among high risk FSWs and their main non-commercial male partner at the a) partner level and b) individual level, using mixed methods.
As if this wouldn’t be enough reason for the American taxpayer — burdened by debt and oppressed by an all-powerful federal government — to demand such programs be immediately terminated, the NIH is paying money to male prostitutes in Mexico, as well. As reported by the online Daily Caller:
If you give U.S. tax dollars to a Mexican male prostitute, will he agree to stay disease-free? That’s what government-funded researchers at Brown University would like to know.
The study is called “Conditional Economic Incentives to Reduce HIV Risks: A Pilot in Mexico,” and uses a grant from the National Institute of Health to pay male prostitutes in Mexico City. The prostitutes were placed in different groups and tested for sexually transmitted diseases. For every six months that they remain clean, they receive a payment that is larger or smaller depending upon their group.
Though the dollar amounts paid to each prostitute are small — they must remain poor enough to continue in prostitution, of course — the study has already cost nearly $400,000.
Researchers hope the experiment will show that financial incentives can be used to deter the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The goal of the program is described by the NIH on the project website:
The overall objective of the current application is to implement a pilot project offering conditional economic incentives (CEI) for HIV/STI prevention among male sex workers (MSW) in Mexico City, to test feasibility and acceptability, and to gather preliminary evidence on effects sizes to inform a future efficacy trial. CEI are an innovative structural approach for HIV prevention, which so far has not been tested in concentrated epidemic settings.
Conditional economic incentives. That’s the euphemistic name given to the federal government to the bribes paid to male Mexican prostitutes to convince them to practice safe sex.
The Daily Caller article quotes Drew Johnson from the Center for Economic Freedom, questioning the wisdom of a federal government throwing millions of dollars at Mexican prostitutes while the American middle class is being ground into oblivion by that same government. “At a time when the federal government is hiking taxes, raising its debt ceiling and drowning in ever-deepening debt, the last thing Washington needs to do is ship our money to Mexico City to give a cash reward to prostitutes for not catching Chlamydia or Gonorrhea,” [Johnson] wrote. “But that’s not stopping them.”
Perhaps President Obama was thinking of reducing the money we pay to Mexican prostitutes when he said in April 2011:
We don't have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit investments in our people and our country. To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms. We will all need to make sacrifices.
Rather than forcing Americans to pay higher health insurance premiums, rather than forcing Americans to take on multiple part-time jobs just to pay for those premiums so that their families can be healthy, perhaps the House of Representatives — whose obligation it is to control spending of the people’s tax dollars — should immediately cease funding for programs paying millions to Mexican sex workers.
Which of the people’s representatives in Congress will be the first to offer a bill turning off the payments-to-prostitutes pipeline?