Bush Administration’s Domestic, Global HIV/AIDS Initiatives Have ‘Failed,’ Opinion Piece Says
The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- "trumpet[ed]" by Republicans as the "prime example" of President Bush's "care for the less fortunate" -- has "failed," along with the administration's domestic initiatives to curb HIV/AIDS, Kai Wright, editor of BlackAIDS.org, writes in a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel opinion piece. Currently, about one million people in the United States are HIV-positive, and more than half do not receive treatment, Wright says. Only about one-third of people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States have private health insurance, while one-fifth are completely uninsured and the other 50% are Medicaid or Medicare beneficiaries, according to Wright. However, Medicaid is "on the brink of financial collapse" in almost every state due to the program's "disproportionate load of disabled and chronically ill subscribers," according to Wright. Despite this, the Bush administration has "spent the last four years pushing a plan that would cut federal funding to the states" rather than "boost the federal share of this burden." In addition, although state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs are "in even worse shape," with more than 1,500 HIV/AIDS patients on waiting lists in nine states, the $20 million in emergency funding for the programs that Bush announced in June "has not yet gone out, and the waiting lists have since grown," Wright says. Moreover, the administration has released only about $850 million of the $15 billion that it has pledged to global HIV/AIDS initiatives through PEPFAR over the next five years, and the program will not "pay for generic drugs and ... pushes abstinence-only prevention campaigns," Wright says. "Sadly, the White House appears to have chosen to conserve its compassion," Wright concludes (Wright, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 8/19).