A US Supreme Court case that challenges a law requiring anti-prostitution policies for HIV/AIDS programs seeking federal money has generated a split among nonprofit groups that counsel sex workers overseas.
The case involves a 2003 law that bars funding for groups that work on HIV/AIDS prevention but do not have a policy opposing prostitution and sex trafficking.
It has pitted two non-governmental organisations that operate programs overseas, backed by umbrella organisations representing others like them, against 46 organisations that have sided with the federal government in defending the law.
The organisations challenging the provision on First Amendment grounds do not want to take a stand on prostitution. They say the law interferes with their work providing advice and counseling to prostitutes about the risks of HIV infection.
The court on April 22 will consider whether the requirement, which has not been enforced since a 2006 injunction, is valid under the US Constitution.
The 2003 law outlined a plan to fight the spread of the HIV virus that causes AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, part of which would involve providing funding for non-governmental organisations.
The Alliance for Open Society International and Pathfinder International - NGOs that receive funding for overseas HIV/AIDS prevention - sued in 2005, citing the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.