Powell’s Work on HIV/AIDS Could Be ‘Greatest Legacy,’ Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist Says
While Secretary of State Colin Powell, who received the Philadelphia Liberty Medal yesterday, has accomplished a great deal in many fields, his "greatest legacy may be his success in making HIV/AIDS [a Bush administration] priority," Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin writes. The Liberty Medal is awarded for leadership "in pursuit of liberty of conscience or freedom from oppression, ignorance or deprivation." U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former South African President Nelson Mandela have received the medal in the past. Powell told Rubin that if the administration's anti-HIV/AIDS efforts are successful, they could "be the biggest accomplishment of this president and his team." Powell added, "None of the regional conflicts rises to the level of the danger of the threat of HIV/AIDS, not only in Africa but in the Caribbean, with their huge populations." Regarding Powell's role in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Rubin concludes, "Nothing could be more deserving of the Liberty Medal than that" (Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/3).
Complacency 'Is Not an Option'
In another column appearing today in the Inquirer, Rubin writes that "[i]f the administration now takes the war on HIV/AIDS seriously, it must rearrange some priorities," adding that the "daunting" statistics released by UNAIDS on Tuesday "may make people living in Western countries want to pull up the covers and stop reading about HIV/AIDS." However, she says that "the very awfulness of the UNAIDS forecast means complacence isn't an option." Rubin states that "[a]ttention must be paid" to model countries, such as Uganda, which have successfully slowed the spread of HIV. Also, "[t]here must be increased global cooperation between rich and poor nations," including nongovernmental organizations and private companies, to help fight HIV/AIDS internationally, as the epidemic "is a destroyer of nations [and] ... a destroyer of societies," according to Powell. "In the Pentagon, an extra billion [dollars] for fighting a war is a pittance. And in this war, it could save tens of thousands of lives," Rubin concludes (Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/5).