President Bush Calls for Increased Funding to Fight HIV/AIDS in World AIDS Day Statement
President Bush on Friday called on people to commemorate World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 and said that the United States would increase its support and funding to combat the spread of HIV worldwide, Agence France-Presse reports. In a proclamation, Bush said, "The HIV/AIDS pandemic has taken the lives of more than 20 million people and is projected to take millions more. By raising awareness and promoting acceptance of people living with HIV/AIDS, we improve the lives of millions of people around the world and demonstrate the compassion of our nation." For this coming year, the Bush administration has asked for $2.9 billion for HIV vaccine and treatment research; $500 million for the administration's International Mother and Child HIV Prevention Initiative, which will target African and Caribbean nations; and more than $1.3 billion for international efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Of that amount, $500 million will go to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Agence France-Presse, 11/30).
The world's failure to provide treatment for all people with HIV/AIDS will been seen as "medieval" by future historians, especially because available medicines can "turn AIDS from a death sentence into a chronic illness," former President Clinton writes in a New York Times opinion piece. Clinton adds that there are nearly six million people in developing nations who are not receiving necessary treatment for HIV/AIDS, and "[t]hat does not account for" the 36 million HIV-positive people worldwide who will need treatment in the coming years. He cautions against the belief that treatment is not as important as prevention, stating that prevention efforts only will work if large numbers of people agree to be tested. But people "won't agree to be tested if all they will learn is that they are going to die," Clinton says. He writes that people need to "understand that AIDS is not only a preventable disease but a treatable one," adding that if "we focus on treatment in addition to prevention, several good things would result," including that more people would be willing to be tested for the virus and people living with HIV/AIDS would live longer. Clinton concludes, "[W]e can and must do more to stop the spread of AIDS by doing more to treat people who already have it. Now that we have the medical capacity to save and improve the lives of millions of people, there is no other moral or practical choice" (Clinton, New York Times, 12/1).
Millions of individuals worldwide yesterday commemorated World AIDS Day with marches, prayer services and speeches. Chinese officials asked one million of the nation's students to begin a national AIDS awareness campaign, and thousands of people in Vietnam and Thailand marched to promote AIDS awareness. Indian officials yesterday presented for the first time a 3.7-mile-long banner to mark World AIDS Day, and South African AIDS activists held a "mass funeral" to mark the AIDS-related deaths of infants in the country (Washington Post, 12/2). Yesterday's activities also called attention to the scale of HIV's spread since 1981, when the virus was first detected among men who have sex with men in the United States. Currently, more than 40 million people worldwide are HIV-positive, according to recent UNAIDS estimates (Quinn, Reuters, 12/1).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.