Mothers With AIDS Move O'Neill to Back Money for Treatment
May 28, 2002
In his tour of Africa, Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neil has taken an unexpected position. After cradling babies and talking with their mothers at a Soweto hospital that cares for thousands of AIDS patients, O'Neill believes that the world community ought to provide substantially more money for treatment of people with HIV/AIDS.
"There is an essential question when I see real people sitting here with us and know that there are thousands who are not getting any treatment," O'Neill said to an audience that included the rock star Bono and HIV-infected mothers whose babies have been saved from the virus. "There is something wrong with the allocation system if treatment does not come first. It is not that we should not do prevention, too, but there is something wrong if the system does not take care of here-and-now physical mothers and their babies," he said.
Because of his concern that money was being misallocated, however, O'Neill said at a news conference that he was not prepared to endorse the Senate legislation that would speed $500 million during the current fiscal year to the global fight against AIDS, with much of the money earmarked for preventing mother-to-child transmission. That bill, and another Senate bill that would more than double US AIDS spending to $2 billion in 2003, is a top priority of AIDS activists, who argue that the pandemic has reached the point of a dire emergency.
Bono credited O'Neill for "getting angrier by the day" at what they were seeing in Africa, but made it clear that he would use the tour to agitate for more and much faster US spending on AIDS. Later, he said that those who fail to help AIDS victims are morally equivalent to those who failed to act when they saw Jews being transported to concentration camps.
05.25.02; Paul Blustein
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.