"President Obama is all about sound science and a fresh global image," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial says, adding, "On these points, he has no better opportunity than building on" the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. However, the administration "fumbled the first step with summary firing" of Mark Dybul as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and PEPFAR administrator, the editorial says, adding, "It was unexpected, unceremonious and undeserved."
Although it is a "president's prerogative to name his own team" and "Obama insiders and Dybul had agreed on a waiting period before a successor was lined up," that "orderly timetable was shredded after politics entered the picture," according to the Chronicle. Dybul was "scapegoated for the marginal portions" of PEPFAR, such as an "emphasis on sexual abstinence and a ban on aiding" commercial sex workers, the editorial says, adding, "These stances, while objectionable, never stood at the heart of far-larger goals of prevention, research and medical treatment that has enrolled two million worldwide." According to the editorial, Dybul critics believed that he did not "object loudly enough and had to go."
If Obama is not "careful, the AIDS fight may return to the bad old days with factions fighting over the latest trend or more perfect answer," according to the editorial. It adds, "It's a special worry as Congress is asked to follow through on its vote last year to increase spending to $48 billion in future years, a pledge that looks iffy as economic conditions tighten." Obama should "mend his mistake by finding a replacement who matches Dybul's experience and competence," the editorial says, concluding, "That task could be a challenge given shabby handling of this praiseworthy public official" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/30).
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Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2009 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.