Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Sacking of Dybul

Why would President Obama fire an openly gay, Howard Dean donor who's been running an extremely successful program for AIDS prevention worldwide? Because he was appointed by Bush, perhaps. Dr. Mark Dybul was initially told he'd be staying on in his role as coordinator of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. He was canned the day after Obama's inaugeration. Here's an article on the situation and it's just disappointing.


The Only Sensible Man Alive said...

I can't find specific corroborating information, the sacking seems to have been the result of pressure regarding the directing of funds to abstinence-only education programs (which Gerson asserts is a lie but there's no specific citation I can refer to either way, while the PEPFAR text itself does provide up to a third of its educational funding for "abstinence" education, which is not entirely a promising wording or statistic,) and his tacit support of the Bush administration's opposition to needle exchange programs.

It's important to separate correlation from causation: that he's openly gay or supports Howard Dean shouldn't have any immediate impact on his job qualifications; neither should his appointment by George W. Bush.

However, it is possible that he was appointed by Bush because he supports certain policies (such as an exclusion on needle exchanges) in which case it makes sense that his dismissal would be connected to, indirectly, his appointment, but more pertinently to the positions he supports.

The Only Sensible Man Alive said...

And here's the specific information I was looking for.

Health GAP's report, in particular:

"The Bush administration has tied PEPFAR funding to strict requirements such as mandating that 33% of prevention funds be spent on abstinence-until-marriage programs, limiting condom distribution to narrowly-defined "high risk" groups, and demanding grantees to explicitly condemn sex workers."

This has several problematic elements of it:

1. Condoms reduce infection rates regardless of whether the population is high-risk or not.

2. Abstinence-until-marriage programs don't, regardless again as above.

3. Condemning human trafficking is one thing, but more often than not, members of the sex trade need help rather than condemnation.

Gerson's representation of what the program does and represents is at the least slightly deceptive, and the support Dybul gave the plan probably has a lot mre to do with Dybul's dismissal than the fact that he was appointed by Bush.