Federal Pledges for Global AIDS and Health Fund ‘Disappointing,’ New York Times Editorial Says
President Bush's pledge of $200 million to the Global AIDS and Health Fund last May drew criticism from many Democrats who called it "sting[y]," but the funding recommendation made by Senate Democrats last month is also "disappointing," a New York Times editorial says. The lawmakers recommended earmarking $100 million for the fund this year and $150 million next year, a figure "essentially the same as the administration's," and an amount that may be cut during negotiations. The total is "particularly disappointing" given that the relevant House authorizing committee, led by conservative Republican Rep. Henry Hyde (Ill.), proposed $750 million for the fund. While the editorial agrees with the Democrats' explanation that they are confined by Bush's spending limits, it adds that the "real problem is that AIDS overseas is a low priority for politicians. Many believe, or find it convenient to echo, arguments that the money would be wasted. People are still saying that Africans cannot take AIDS medicine because they do not own watches." But according to the editorial, new AIDS drugs are easy to take, "with two pills at sunup and two at sundown," and pilot programs show that Africans are "perfectly able" to adhere to the drug schedule when "a steady suppl[y] is available." Although the AIDS fund will contribute money for prevention programs and health infrastructure development, it will "supply very few people with medicine in its initial phase." The editorial concludes, "There is no shortage of rhetoric in Washington about the disastrous consequences of delay on the AIDS epidemic. Shamefully, there is a shortage of money" (New York Times, 8/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.