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White House reverses dismissal of pro-abstinence AIDS official

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WASHINGTON (BP)–In a move that was welcomed by conservatives and family groups, the Bush administration July 19 reversed a decision to fire the executive director of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, CNSNews.com reported July 23.

The Bush administration decided to keep Patricia Ware, a conservative African American who favors abstinence programs. The decision was made in response to feedback the White House received during the week, a source close to the process said.

“Word got out Thursday and by the end of the day Friday they had reversed their position. I know there were a lot of phone calls and e-mails exchanged,” the source said. “Basically they have told her — and it was confirmed by Pat Ware — that she is free to stay on, which she intends to do.”

Calls to the White House for comment were not returned.

Bill Arnold, chairman of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program Working Group, a coalition of pharmaceutical companies and AIDS advocacy organizations, said the AIDS coalition ranges from the far left to the far right. But groups ideologically opposed to Ware’s conservative stance will be able to find common ground with her, he said.

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“At the end of the day, everybody’s in the same fight,” Arnold said. “Everybody is trying to figure out how to do more prevention and better prevention, and just because you may have an argument about this way [being] better than that way doesn’t mean that suddenly you’re on the other side in a war.”

Arnold said Ware was “very approachable. She’s called me when she’s needed help.

“If you feel very, very strongly about needle exchange, maybe you’ve got a problem with Pat,” he said. “I’ve always thought there’s a place for abstinence only, but I’m not naive. I’m not going to walk into a whorehouse and try and sell abstinence only.”

Michael Schwartz, vice president of Concerned Women for America, said he welcomed the Bush administration’s reversal.

“Why in the world would they ever want to fire a dedicated, competent official such as Pat Ware? Whoever even thought that thought must have been sleepwalking at the time,” Schwartz said.

As reported earlier, Joseph F. O’Neill, a physician and career civil servant who is openly homosexual, will replace Scott Evertz as director at the Office of National AIDS Policy.

Evertz, until now the only openly homosexual senior official at the White House, will move to the Department of Health and Human Services as a special adviser to Secretary Tommy Thompson, who is responsible for the administration’s global AIDS policy.

Evertz’ initial appointment was criticized by many pro-family groups for what they saw as his lack of qualifications in the healthcare field. Evertz also supported needle exchanges over abstinence to prevent HIV/AIDS infections.
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Morahan is a senior staff writer with www.CNSNews.com. Used by permission.