Bush Could Show AIDS Leadership With ‘More Independent’ HIV/AIDS Presidential Advisory Council Members, Op-Ed Says
Although the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS could provide beneficial guidance on a variety of AIDS-related issues, President Bush has chosen panel members who are ill-equipped to give such advice, Gay Men's Health Crisis Executive Director Ana Oliveira writes in a Newsday op-ed. Oliveira states that PACHA has the ability to highlight funding needs for domestic HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs, the current vacancies at leadership positions within several federal health agencies and the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But Bush "has chosen not to reappoint most of the experienced members" of PACHA and has instead "loaded the council with representatives of the pharmaceutical industry and with advocates of 'abstinence-only' approaches to the epidemic," Oliveira states. She notes that during his tenure as HHS secretary during the first Bush administration, PACHA Co-Chair Louis Sullivan "was a lackluster leader and rarely uttered the acronym AIDS ... when the country was already facing a tremendous AIDS crisis." In addition, Oliveira notes that the number of HIV-positive PACHA members has "substantial[ly]" decreased from previous years. "President Bush has the opportunity to make a difference by taking a leadership role in the fight against AIDS both on the national and international levels. ... Having a more independent HIV/AIDS council would help him perform his AIDS leadership role," Oliveira concludes (Oliveira, Newsday, 3/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.