Global AIDS Bill Could ‘Make Dent in Catastrophic Problem,’ Dan Rather Writes in Opinion Piece
President Bush's plan for the United States to provide $15 billion over five years to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean is a chance to "make a dent in a catastrophic problem," CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather writes in a Houston Chronicle opinion piece (Rather, Houston Chronicle, 8/2). Bush in May signed into law a measure (HR 1298) that authorizes $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. The House so far has approved a total of $2 billion for the AIDS initiative in fiscal year 2004, an increase of about $500 million over FY 2003 AIDS spending (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/31). According to Rather, the funds are "well-directed" at sub-Saharan Africa, where 70% of the world's 42 million HIV-positive people live and where only one-tenth of 1% of the HIV-positive population currently has access to antiretroviral drugs. Rather adds that "as bad as things are in Africa," the HIV/AIDS epidemic is spreading fastest in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, just as HIV/AIDS cases recently have increased in India, China and the United States. Recent crises such as terrorism and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, have "inspired worldwide action," but Rather says that neither of those problems "holds a candle to the AIDS epidemic that rages still." Rather concludes, "Right now, the relative complacency of the world's richest nations in the face of AIDS has the look of the greatest tragedy of all" (Houston Chronicle, 8/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.