AIDS Advocates Upbeat on Bush Plan
February 6, 2003
President George W. Bush's State of the Union proposal to spend $15 billion over five years fighting AIDS in parts of Africa and the Caribbean is drawing qualified praise from US AIDS activists. The Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which includes $10 billion in new spending and a $1 billion donation to the Global Fund, would start next fiscal year with a $2 billion allocation.Adapted from:
"We welcome the new rhetoric and the new money," said Sharonann Lynch, spokesperson for Health Global Access Project, a group that advocates for AIDS treatments in developing countries. "Part of the work now for activists is to ensure that the rhetoric turns into meaningful policy changes that will affect the lives of people with AIDS in poor countries."
"We think it's significant and we applaud the president for including this in the State of the Union address," said David E. Munar, associate director at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. "It's the largest financial commitment to AIDS relief ever made by a US president."
But the plan was faulted for the Global Fund donation. "The Global Fund is recognized as the best vehicle we have now to fund resources to poor countries," said Ronald Johnson, associate executive director of the Gay Men's Health Crisis. "The $1 billion that he enunciated still falls way short of what is needed." Johnson said Bush's failure to discuss AIDS in America in his speech undercut his commitment. "It is very unfortunate that while he recognized the global crisis he devoted only one sentence to the domestic crisis," Johnson said.
The president noted that the cost of AIDS drugs for one person had gone from $12,000 a year to just $300 -- the price charged for a three-drug regimen by Cipla, an Indian manufacturer of generic versions of patented HIV drugs. "The $300 presupposes a generic drug," said Johnson, "and it remains to be seen if that was a speechwriter's injection or if it's a precursor of some significant policy changes on the availability of generic drugs." Health GAP's Lynch agreed: "He has handed us a policy change and that policy change must be reflected in trade policies."
Gay City News (New York City)
01.31.03; Duncan Osborne
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.