Some Criticisms of Bush’s Global AIDS Initiative ‘Misconceived,’ While One Is ‘Telling,’ Editorial Says
Although Bush's global AIDS initiative "went unmentioned" during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, his administration has been "ramping up its effort in a serious way," as AIDS-related spending has increased fivefold since Bush took office, a Washington Post editorial says. "Of the four criticisms often directed against the administration's efforts, two are misconceived, one is premature and only one is really telling," according to the editorial. First, the belief that fighting AIDS through faith-based groups is ineffective is "misconceived" because "shunning" the religious organizations that operate a large percentage of the medical and social services in developing countries "would be wrong," the editorial says. Second, objections about a provision in the bill requiring funding for abstinence education are misguided because such funding accounts for one-third of the total AIDS prevention funding, or 7% of the total U.S. international AIDS effort, which means that the abstinence focus is "pronounced but not outrageous," the Post says. Third, claims that the Bush administration is "biased against cheap, non-patented 'generic' medicines," are "premature" because officials insist that the plan will involve generic drugs, "provided they prove safe," the editorial says. The only "telling complaint" about Bush's plan is the claim that his program is "unilateralist," creating new programs instead of going through the already-established Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Post says, concluding that while the global AIDS initiative is in its early stages, "it makes sense to give a large slice of the money to other agencies ... that have a longer track record" (Washington Post, 1/22).
Absence of AIDS Discussion 'Conspicuous,' Editorial Says
The absence of discussion of the global AIDS initiative from Bush's State of the Union address on Tuesday was "conspicuous," a Houston Chronicle editorial says. Although it was "one of the centerpieces" of last year's address, both mention of the pledge and the money itself "has been largely missing in action," the editorial says. Bush last year made a "bold AIDS proposal," but has since "disappointed many by underfunding the pledge," the editorial says. The "shortfall" in Bush's funding requests is "important" because the initiative targets only 14 countries, "leaving out dozens of countries in great need, including populous 'next wave' nations such as India," according to RESULTS Legislative Director Joanne Carter, the editorial says. The "shortfall" will cause a "ripple effect" because other nations follow the lead of the United States, the editorial concludes (Houston Chronicle, 1/21).