AIDS Education:

Activities Aimed at the General Public Implemented Slowly

HRD-89-21: Published: Dec 16, 1988. Publicly Released: Dec 28, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed selected aspects of the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) education programs, including the National AIDS Information and Education Program activities, focusing on: (1) CDC budget and expenditures for AIDS education; (2) the delays in mailing AIDS information to all households nationwide and disposition of funds intended for that purpose; (3) the airing of AIDS public service announcements on television; (4) the operation of the national AIDS telephone hotline; (5) CDC distribution of an AIDS educational pamphlet; and (6) the status of other projects intended to educate the general public on AIDS.

GAO found that CDC: (1) AIDS expenditures increased significantly from $17 million to about $210 million during fiscal years 1985 through 1988; (2) allocated about 40 percent of its 1988 budget to AIDS activities, and 69 percent of those funds for AIDS education; (3) efforts to focus national attention on AIDS prevention were hampered by delays in implementing many of its key activities; (4) abandoned its planned national mailing of AIDS information because it did not receive clearance from the White House; and (5) mailed certain AIDS brochures to comply with a congressional mandate that it complete the mailing by June 30, 1988. GAO also found that: (1) although CDC distributed 38 public service announcements to the major television networks, only one network aired any in October 1987, while three others aired the announcements on only six occasions; (2) CDC expanded its AIDS telephone hotline from 17 to 68 lines in October 1987, but its busy-signal rate increased from an acceptable monthly rate of 3 percent, to 7 percent; (3) as of July 1988, CDC had mailed about 24 million copies of AIDS educational pamphlets, but its deliveries had been inconsistent; and (4) CDC sponsored additional AIDS activities in 1987, including distributing public service announcements to radio and print media, holding public meetings and leadership forums, sending information sheets to three targeted cities, conducting technical briefings in conjunction with medical associations, and making agency officials available for speaking engagements.

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