Trump’s abortion ‘gagging’ policy puts U.S. and global HIV targets in jeopardy

© Gemma Taylor for Frontline AIDS

Brighton, 22 August, 2019: The Trump administration’s hostile position on abortion risks the achievement of HIV reduction targets in the U.S. and in developing countries. This week’s decision by Planned Parenthood, along with many state and local health clinics, to leave the federal Title X programme rather than comply with restrictive policies on abortion underlines the seriousness of the situation.

The impact of President Trump’s stance on abortion is already being felt in developing countries. In March, a Frontline AIDS report found the expanded Mexico City Policy, which prevents organisations receiving U.S. funds from providing or promoting abortion, is already causing chaos and restricting access to vital HIV services in Cambodia and Malawi.

Researchers in both countries found that the policy has caused disruption to HIV programmes, created an environment of mistrust, confusion and isolation among civil society organisations, and compromised access to HIV prevention, testing and treatment services for marginalised people.

The decision to restrict U.S. federal domestic funding for abortion means that organisations who provide HIV testing alongside other family planning services, including abortion, will miss out on Title X funding if they do not comply fully with the policy. This will likely reduce their ability to offer vital HIV and family planning services and, as a result, the U.S. President’s pledge to end the epidemic in the U.S by 2030 will be almost impossible to achieve.

“We stand with our colleagues at Planned Parenthood, who have been forced into this difficult decision by the U.S. President’s hostility towards a woman’s right to make decisions about her body,” said Lois Chingandu, Director of Evidence and Influence at Frontline AIDS. “We are already seeing the chaos and disruption caused to HIV services in developing countries by the Mexico City Policy and we are equally saddened that women, particularly marginalised women, in the U.S. will now be unable to access vital services that keep them safe and healthy.”

The Mexico City Policy was reintroduced and expanded in 2017 under the title ‘Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance’. The policy now includes not only global family planning assistance provided by the U.S. government (representing $575 million in 2016) but also global health assistance, including HIV, totalling $8.8 billion, a 16-fold increase in funding covered by the policy.

Frontline AIDS is committed to a future free from AIDS for everyone, everywhere. Last year, Frontline AIDS partners reached more than 1.6 million adults, adolescents and children with HIV treatment, care and support.


AbortionGlobal Gag RuleHIV preventionSexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)