U.S. Government ‘Retreating’ on HIV/AIDS Issues, Editorial Says
"The past half-year has seen Washington retreating from its promised engagement in the international AIDS crisis," a Washington Post editorial states. In March, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) proposed spending an additional $500 million to fight mother-to-child HIV transmission in the developing world. However, that proposal was "scaled back" by Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who cosponsored the legislation with Helms, with the assurance that the Bush administration would support an additional $300 million over the next two years for the initiative. However, "[n]ow even that deflated promise is in doubt," the Post says, noting that the $200 million was supposed to be appropriated this year, but President Bush declined to authorize the contingency spending package in which the funding was included. The administration has "bumped the $200 million forward to next year -- but even that may not be forthcoming," the Post states, noting that Bush's budget request "said nothing about what spending might be cut to fund these new priorities." At the same time, "the challenge posed by AIDS is not shrinking in line with Washington's enthusiasm for facing it," the editorial says, adding that if "rich country donors are complacent, tens of millions more will be infected." Noting that the amount in question represents only a "small part of what's needed," the editorial concludes, "The battle against AIDS requires a huge commitment of resources. But even in a time of terrorist threats and budget stringency, it is a commitment that the United States must make. It's sad to see the president and Congress wavering even on the modest commitments already made" (Washington Post, 9/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.