Communique Urges Bush Administration to Boost Interagency Coordination to Address International AIDS Epidemic
The United States must implement a government-wide strategic plan to address the AIDS pandemic if it hopes to provide solid leadership on the issue, a communique released yesterday by the International Center for Research on Women and the Global AIDS Action Network states. According to the paper, while the United States government contributes more funding to global HIV/AIDS programs than any other entity, the country is "undermining its global leadership on AIDS because it has failed to develop a government-wide strategic plan to address the global AIDS crisis." The communique cites the Bush administration's task force on AIDS as one example of unfulfilled potential. The task force, which is chaired by HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and Secretary of State Colin Powell, has only met once, and the administration will not publicly disclose information about the panel's membership and proceedings, the paper states. "The administration is operating on a 'business as usual' basis in responding to a crisis that is devastating whole countries. We will never halt the AIDS epidemic if we continue with business as usual," Cheryl Morden, director of policy and communications for ICRW, said. The paper recommends a greater level of interagency coordination within the U.S. government. Such collaboration would "draw on the unique strengths and experience that many agencies have developed over the years [and] would be a relatively simple yet highly effective strategy in the fight against AIDS," the paper states.
Letter Urges Thompson and Powell to Develop Global AIDS Plan
In addition to the communique, ICRW and GAAN sent a letter, signed by more than 30 AIDS groups, to Thompson and Powell urging them to develop a "comprehensive U.S. global AIDS plan" by Dec. 31, 2002. The plan should include sections on prevention, treatment and care and should outline how the United States will meet the requirements outlined in the United Nations' Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. The letter also urges Powell and Thompson to "[r]eactivate" the administration's AIDS task force, encourage participation by "all relevant U.S. departments and agencies" and make public all information pertaining to task force membership and meetings. Some of the signatories include: ACT UP/Philadelphia, Africa Action, the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, the American Public Health Association, Gay Men's Health Crisis, the Global AIDS Alliance, Population Action International, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the Alan Guttmacher Institute and the Episcopal Church USA (Letter text, 10/25).