Ambassador Tobias Could Face Protests at XV International AIDS Conference
HIV/AIDS advocates are expected to protest U.S. HIV/AIDS policies and the appointment of Ambassador Randall Tobias as head of the State Department's Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator when he arrives at the XV International AIDS Conference this week in Bangkok, Thailand, the Los Angeles Times reports. Although the five-year, $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is the "most expensive effort ever mounted by a government to fight AIDS internationally," some advocates have said that U.S. efforts have been "hamstrung" by politics and ideology, according to the Times. Health GAP Director of International Policy Sharonann Lynch said that Tobias has "been worse that we thought," adding that he is the "front man for Bush's ideology-driven policies on prevention and on treatment." Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), who has supported the Bush administration's efforts to fight HIV/AIDS worldwide, said that HIV/AIDS advocates' concerns are politically motivated, according to the Times. He added, "Every action taken by President Bush to elevate the fight against AIDS, both domestically and globally, has been greeted with derision ... by activists who can't bear to see the president's compassionate conservative agenda achieve the results that the previous administration failed to deliver." Erin Chapman, policy director for the debt, AIDS and trade advocacy group DATA, said that Tobias "has been put into an incredibly challenging position, and we do think he has been facing it with a lot of genuine enthusiasm," adding that he "really seems to care about this, and he's getting things done. Money is moving. Things are happening" (Curtius, Los Angeles Times, 7/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.