Friday, April 18, 2003

Land of the free [Science ]
Program staff at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for example, have warned grant applicants to cleanse certain terms, such as "transgender" and "prostitutes," from their grant applications. The reason, according to an NIH staffer who asked not to be identified, is to reduce the projects' visibility. "What's frightening" is that NIH staff feel grantees need to disguise their work, says Alfred Sommer, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore....

UCSF officials thought no more of it until they learned last week about a memo from the House of Representatives to NIH. The 13 March e-mail memo, from staffer Roland Foster of the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources chaired by Representative Mark Souder (R-IN), raised concerns about two NIH- funded studies of sex workers--Nemoto's and another led by a researcher in Miami. The memo, which HHS routinely forwarded to NIH director Elias Zerhouni, argues that by attempting to protect the health of sex workers, the studies "seek to legitimize the commercial sexual exploitation of women." This runs counter to a February directive from President George W. Bush to reduce international sex trafficking, the letter claims....

NIH program officials who handle grants in these areas are worried about the rumored surveillance. Four staffers contacted by Science declined to be interviewed. But one NIH scientist confirmed that some program staff have been telling grantees to reword grants to avoid terms such as: "needle exchange," "abortion," "condom effectiveness," "commercial sex workers," "transgender," and "men who have sex with men."

Changing words in proposals may not shield researchers from scrutiny, however. On 11 April, Foster fired off another letter to NIH raising questions about a UCSF grant to prevent HIV in gay men and demanded a list of all HIV-prevention studies.

Apparently the 80's will not die either...

Duh. Just realized this story is in the Times today (without naming names). The CRISP database is here -- 55 hits for "anal".

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