HIV/AIDS Neglected in Bush’s State of the Union Address, UCSF Researchers Write
"[I]n pointing out the 'unprecedented dangers' fac[ing] the nation in his State of the Union address, [President Bush] somehow fail[ed] to mention HIV/AIDS," Thomas Coates, Stephen Morris and Jeff Sheehy of the AIDS Research Institute at the University of California-San Francisco write in a commentary for ABCNews.com, adding that it is a "tragedy of these times that the president's superb leadership in the fight against terrorism is not mirrored in his response to HIV/AIDS." In fact, the administration seems to disappoint "[a]lmost daily" with respect to HIV/AIDS issues, the researchers state. For example, Monday's announcement that the U.S. government will contribute $200 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is estimated to need $10 billion a year, is "not only an embarrassment, but paltry" and "almost certainly dooms the fund to failure," they state. They also note that budget cutbacks, which will "only worsen" after Bush's call to "restrain the federal budget," forced 17 states to restrict access to their AIDS Drug Assistance Programs last year.
The administration's "[f]inancial neglect is compounded by policy gaffes," they continue, saying that the reinstatement of the "Mexico City" policy, which bans the use of federal funds for family planning services abroad, "obstructs attempts to tackle HIV/AIDS in the developing world" by barring family planning groups that perform or promote abortion with their own funds from receiving U.S. foreign aid. They also say that the recent appointment of former Rep. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), an advocate of "ineffective" abstinence-only HIV prevention programs, as co-chair of the President's Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS is reason for worry. "In these strange times, the ultimate irony may be that while Bush is winning the war against terrorism spawned by religious fundamentalism, he is losing the war against HIV/AIDS by turning the conduct of it over to religious fundamentalists," they conclude, adding that HIV prevention efforts "should not be held hostage to moral concerns" (Coates et al., ABCNews.com, 1/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.