AIDS activists descended on Washington in mid-February to lobby for more federal dollars to fight one of history's worst plagues. Before additional funds are committed to this disease, it's fair to ask whether a lot of the money already being spent is allocated wisely, or wasted on frivolous and outrageous things that don't enhance our knowledge and lead to a cure.
Citizens Against Government Waste has compiled a report (http://www.cagw.org/site/PageServer) revealing how millions of mostly federal dollars that should be going to disease prevention and cure are instead being squandered on highly questionable programs. The report notes that:
— A $20,000 grant to the Twin State Women's Network (awarded through the Vermont Department of Public Health) was used for a weekend retreat featuring such seminars as ‘‘Toys 4 Us'' and ‘‘Self Loving/Self Healing: Discussing the Role of Masturbation as a Tool of Healing.'' TSWN also received $1,500 for long-distance phone calls, $1,000 for books, including ‘‘The New Good Vibrations for Sex'' manual, and $250 for videos, including ‘‘Fire in the Valley: A Guide to Masturbation for Women.'' Participants received welcome bags filled with mints and chocolate. Each guest room was equipped with welcome packets containing condoms, lubricants, candles, massage lotion and lip balm. Eighty-six percent of TSWN funds come from government sources, including the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.