White House AIDS Czar Has Potential to ‘Provide Leadership’ in AIDS Crisis, Detroit News Columnist Says
White House Office of National AIDS Policy Director Scott Evertz "clearly doesn't have a magic wand" to "make the AIDS crisis vanish," but he does have the potential to "provide the leadership needed to wipe out" HIV/AIDS, columnist Deb Price writes in the Detroit News. In an interview with Price, Evertz, "a conservative, pro-life Catholic who is the Bush administration's only openly gay appointee," said he will use a "bully pulpit" to emphasize the "importance" of HIV testing and how "AIDS is increasingly claiming the lives of racial minorities and the poor." He added, "We need to look at how we have been spending our funds domestically to come up with even better policy and better funding strategies addressing the epidemic here in the United States -- keeping this issue on the radar screen." He also defended the Bush administration's decision not to increase funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, saying, "While I certainly heard the critics of the flat funding of the Ryan White program, it wasn't cut." He added, "To suggest that there isn't a serious domestic plan, you would have to suggest that we dismantled everything that (HHS) has been doing for the past 20 years. We are spending billions domestically." Price writes that some AIDS activists "reasonably fear" that Evertz is just a "well-intentioned nice guy with no real clout," and his appointment "looks as if it may have been a sop to the gay community to deflect attention from Bush's ... unwillingness to advocate proven but controversial AIDS-prevention measures, such as needle exchanges and safer-sex practices." Although she says it is "way to soon to judge" Evertz, Price writes, "We can't expect Evertz to be a magician. But we have every right to demand an aggressive Bush administration plan to halt AIDS' spread" (Price, Detroit News, 8/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.