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Editorial: Bush WHACKED
Or How the Right Wing's Social Agenda Is Losing the War Against AIDS

By David Scondras

May 2003

With great fanfare Bush announced a $15 billion effort passed by the Congress at his request, to fight AIDS around the world -- big talk, small steps.

Not a penny of that money has been authorized. And every step of the way right-wingers slow the money down, wanting to put their religion-based conditions on every penny.

Many have decided to applaud the effort, surprised the right wing allowed anything to happen at all.

But we should not encourage the half-hearted positive efforts of religious fanatics. Instead, we should be working for regime change.

This month Bush stopped efforts by the Senate and House to increase funding for AIDS in Africa. When he talks big about AIDS in Africa he doesn't tell you he made sure one third of the money must be used for abstinence-only programs -- a complete waste of 300 million dollars. And none will go to any agencies offering family planning.

And because Bush does not trust the Global AIDS Fund he wants the money to be given out by his State Department -- which knows absolutely nothing about HIV and chose 14 African countries for funds based on politics not their ability to use the money.

Countries that have spent years planning and developing treatment programs that are left out of Bush's list are outraged.

Here in the U.S. the story is similar. Scientists are told not to apply for research funds to study safer sex or which use the words condoms or anal sex among others. And money for HIV treatment is shortchanged for people Bush feels are sinners -- gays, addicts and sex workers.

Right now, as the largest budgets in history are being passed to pay for you getting felt up at airports and for 'homeland security' measures to protect everything from bridges to libraries from threats that do not exist, the real and present danger of HIV is being downplayed.

A person not getting HIV medicines means a person becomes more infectious. A person who is not sure that they can get medicine is a person who has no reason to get tested -- the most powerful way to slow down transmission.

In the end, people not getting medicines means they get sick and the taxpayer picks up the hospital bills. It's just cheaper to distribute the medicines.

This administration is out of control. There was no problem and no talk about where the $100 billion to fund Bush's war would come from. But across the nation Bush is telling people with HIV their medicines cost the government too much.

It's not right.

The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors is doing an ADAP Funding Watch. ADAP (the U.S. AIDS Drug Assistance Program) is the program many people in the U.S. rely upon to get their antiviral medicines.

ADAP desperately needs a 300 million dollar increase but Bush only has allowed $100 million. Bush gave the war against Iraq a THOUSAND times that!

It's not only not right, its downright stupid because when you come right down to it, the liberated people of Iraq don't vote here. But most people know someone with HIV who does.

14 ADAPs have closed enrollment to new clients or limited access to antiretroviral (ARV) and other treatments. Seven states anticipate the need to implement program restrictions during FY2003 that began April 1, 2003.

ADAPs with waiting lists and/or access restrictions as of April 2003 are:

ADAPs anticipating new/additional restrictions in FY2003:

Right now the biggest threat to people with HIV in the U.S. is the right wing taking away medicines that are saving lives.

For more information check out The Access Project (theaccessproject@aol.com) that is monitoring the funding crisis for AIDS drugs.




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