Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Examines Washington’s New Attention to International HIV/AIDS Initiatives
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday examined the "favorable" reception international HIV/AIDS initiatives are receiving in Washington, D.C. HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson's recent trip to Africa provided a "firsthand" look at the continent's HIV/AIDS epidemic. Thompson said he was "somewhat discouraged" by the scope of the problem and added that Americans have a "moral and spiritual imperative" to help address the situation. Thompson is not alone in his call for action, the Journal Sentinel reports. Other politicians, most notably Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), have called for increased spending on international HIV/AIDS programs. J. Stephen Morrison, head of the HIV/AIDS task force at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said that after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, HIV/AIDS assistance is "suddenly much more attractive and sellable to Congress and the American people in a way they hadn't appreciated before" due to increased political support in general for foreign aid to developing nations. Media attention and "crusading celebrities," such as music stars Bono and Elton John, have also helped draw attention to the cause.
Not All is Well
"[S]erious disagreements" remain over how much aid should be allocated and where it should be directed, the Journal Sentinel reports, citing the controversy over the United States' $500 million contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which critics charge should be larger. "We are doing our part. This is a problem for the world community," Thompson said, adding, "If everybody just keeps pointing to the United States, the other countries don't feel they have to pony up." The U.S. contribution accounts for one-quarter of the total money received by the fund so far. Thompson is the U.S. representative to the fund's board, which will meet next Monday in New York to begin selecting its first round of grantees. He said that he feels "confident" that progress will be made with the first round of grants, adding, "I'm fairly comfortable the United States will make a third installment and a fourth installment" (Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4/15).