July 14, 2004
Ambassador Randall Tobias, Head of the U.S. State Department's Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, on Wednesday at the International AIDS Conference in Bangkok discussed U.S. HIV/AIDS policy in an interview with Kaiser Family Foundation Senior Fellow Jackie Judd for kaisernetwork.org, the official conference webcaster. The following are highlights from the interview. To view the entire interview, visit www.kaisernetwork.org/aids2004/tobias.
"It's disappointing because this year for example the United States will commit almost twice as much to fighting international HIV/AIDS than the rest of the world's donor governments combined. So, in the context of the facts, it really makes no sense. But I think there are a number of people who have broader agendas that this kind of gets caught up in."
"Either intentionally or honestly, there are large numbers of people who simply are confused or misinformed or intentionally want to misunderstand what our strategy is."
"Our strategy is A and B and C; abstinence works, being faithful works, condoms work. They all have a role, but it's not a multiple-choice test where there's one right answer; all of the things have a place and they have a place in the President's emergency plan."
"One of the tragedies of the culture that's developed around this conference is that a relatively small number of people have commanded a very disproportionate share of attention, certainly of the media and probably of the people attending the conference, and as a result of that, attention is not being directed at the other aspects of the conference where people could be exchanging ideas I think a little more efficiently than perhaps takes place."
"You really need to say was the value that was generated by this kind of a conference worth that kind of money or could part of that money be spent more efficiently in some other directions in order to fight HIV/AIDS."
"There is a kind of an industry that's developed of people who spend their time talking to each other, and as others who have said who have been engaged in this a lot longer than I have, we really need to do the kinds of things that this Conference is intended to do, but we also need to focus more and more of our energy and attention on getting at it. And really getting at the implementation of treatment, prevention and care programs, and so I think there really needs to be some evaluation before the next conference."
"I think we need to evaluate, as we tried to do this year, not so much the absolute numbers, but whether or not the right people are coming who really have a need and a reason to be here, and that the value that is generated by the cost of bringing them here, is something that's justified as opposed to putting that money in other parts of our HIV efforts."