At Summit of the Americas, Bush, World Bank’s Wolfensohn Pledge to Fight HIV/AIDS
Speaking to leaders at the 34-nation Summit of the Americas in Quebec, Canada, this weekend, President Bush vowed to continue the U.S. commitment to fighting AIDS in the Western Hemisphere, the Washington Post reports. While Bush's speech focused on creating a free trade zone between all the nations, Bush mentioned HIV/AIDS in order to "soften opposition to trade liberalization" (Milbank/Blustein, Washington Post, 4/22). Bush said that the United States is "committed to keeping our cooperation throughout the hemisphere in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS, responding to natural disasters and making sure the benefits of globalization are felt even in the smallest economies" (Associated Press, 4/21). As the summit concluded, Bush noted, "It's clear to me that ours is a hemisphere united by freedom. It's a partnership that will help us tackle the big challenges we all face -- the education of our children, HIV/AIDS, protecting our environment" (DePalma, New York Times, 4/23). While Bush was pushing to loosen trade restrictions, the White House on Saturday announced that it would sponsor several programs aimed at Latin American countries, including one to combat HIV/AIDS. Called the "Third Border Initiative," the program will include $20 million in FY 2002 to fight HIV/AIDS. The funding will be used for education and prevention efforts and triples the current U.S. funding for HIV/AIDS programs in Latin America (White House release, 4/21).
World Bank Pledges $150M to Caribbean AIDS Efforts
Also at the summit in Quebec:
- World Bank President James Wolfensohn stated that the institution will provide up to $150 million to fight HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, noting, "AIDS has become the major cause of death among men under the age of 45 in the Caribbean. With the Caribbean having the world's highest HIV prevalence rate outside sub-Saharan Africa, we must act urgently to save lives and protect the human potential in the region." The proposed funding will be distributed through existing programs and the Caribbean Regional Strategic Plan of Action for HIV/AIDS (Agence France-Presse, 4/21).
- Speaking to reporters "on the sidelines" of the summit, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick addressed a bilateral dispute between the United States and Brazil over the latter nation's generic production of patented AIDS drugs. U.S. officials have said that while international law permits "flexibility" on patents in cases of medical emergency, the Brazilian law would also allow the country to produce non-medical products generically. Zoellick said that the law "goes beyond the steps Brazil needs to take to get local production (of HIV/AIDS drugs)" (Dow Jones International News, 4/21).
- Summit protestors expressed a variety of concerns about the meeting, including "inadequate AIDS treatment" in poorer countries (Arizona Daily Star, 4/22).