Failure To Provide $3B in Funding for First Year of Global AIDS Initiative ‘Not an Option,’ Opinion Piece Says
President Bush "must know that failure to live up to his -- and our -- pledge" of providing $3 billion for the first year of the five-year, $15 billion global AIDS initiative is "not an option," Dr. Mark Kline, a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and director of the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative, writes in a Houston Chronicle opinion piece (Kline, Houston Chronicle, 11/2). Although the measure (HR 1298) supporting the global AIDS initiative authorizes $3 billion for the first year of the program, the Bush administration has requested only $2 billion. Bush said that his administration requested less than $3 billion in funding for the first year of the initiative in order to give the program time to "ramp up." HIV/AIDS advocates had hoped for $3 billion in fiscal year 2004 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/28). Kline says that instead of the "beginning of the end ... of ignorance, the end of apathy, the end of inaction" suggested by the global AIDS initiative, the United States is offering "promises unfulfilled and assurances forgotten, compassionate commitments betrayed by harsh realities, and humanitarian needs trumped by other priorities." Kline disagrees with claims that African and Caribbean governments are not prepared to absorb funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs, saying that several programs, including Baylor's, are "poised to scale up immediately the building of infrastructure and capacity for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment in Africa and elsewhere, but cannot, simply for lack of funding." Kline concludes that any progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa could "come to a halt if the Bush administration fails to live up to the president's pledge," adding that "millions of African men, women and children [will be] the big losers" (Houston Chronicle, 11/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.