Family Planning Policy Restrictions and HIV

Attacks on international family planning funding and policy hinder the progress of U.S. efforts to provide effective HIV prevention, care, and treatment through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) strategy. Here are three big threats: 

Reduced Funding for International Family Planning:

Insufficient funding for voluntary family planning services reduces access to some of the most basic tools for HIV prevention and treatment. Family planning providers are at the center of the HIV pandemic. They have the skills and the opportunity to provide quality, rights-based, comprehensive services that integrate and link HIV/AIDS, maternal health, and voluntary family planning; address gender-based violence; support comprehensive sex education; and engage men and boys. 

How insufficient funding for family planning affects the fight against HIV/AIDS

  • Cuts to family planning funding would result in increased unintended pregnancies, abortions, and maternal deaths among women, including those living with HIV. 
  • Funding cuts to family planning would weaken global efforts to combat gender-based violence, stigma, and gender inequality, which drive the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 
  • Reproductive health programs (including family planning) are often the point of entry for those seeking testing and treatment for HIV. Without sufficient funds, the reach of these programs is limited. 
  • Effective integration and linking of HIV/AIDS, maternal health, and voluntary family planning depends on robust funding for all three services. Insufficient funding for one program area compromises overall health outcomes. 

Eliminating the U.S. Contribution to UNFPA:

UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) is the largest multilateral provider of voluntary family planning and maternal health services globally. UNFPA also provides critical HIV/AIDS services, such as promoting comprehensive female and male condom programming and integrating HIV services within reproductive health programming (including family planning).

How eliminating the U.S. contribution to UNFPA affects the fight against HIV/AIDS

  • UNFPA reaches countries that U.S. family planning and PEPFAR funding do not. Eliminating the U.S. contribution would decrease access to HIV/AIDS, family planning, and other reproductive health services worldwide.

Imposing the Global Gag Rule (or Mexico City Policy):

The Global Gag Rule prohibits foreign organizations receiving U.S. family planning funds from using their own non-U.S. funds to provide information about abortion, to offer referrals or services for legal abortion, or to advocate for the legalization or decriminalization of abortion.

How imposing the Global Gag Rule affects the fight against HIV/AIDS: 

  • The Global Gag Rule has resulted in reproductive health programs (including family planning) losing access to U.S.-donated contraceptives and significant financial resources, causing staff and service reductions.
  • The Global Gag Rule puts the lives of women living with HIV at risk. Women living with HIV who are seeking voluntary abortion services stake their lives on access to honest information from their health providers, including provision of or referral to safe, legal abortion services. 

*The term “family planning” refers to the family planning/reproductive health line item in the annual Department of State, Foreign Operations  and Related Programs Appropriations legislation.

Additional resources:

What DoesFamily Planning Have to do With HIV? Everything and
Family Planning Restrictions and the Effect on HIV/AIDS
 (CHANGE)

International Reproductive Health and Family Planning: U.S. Funding Priorities and Funding Implications (CHANGE)