VP Candidates Cheney, Edwards Move Debate to Foreign AIDS Policy When Asked About HIV Prevalence Among Black U.S. Women

Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) on Tuesday during their only campaign debate shifted the conversation to foreign HIV/AIDS policy and general health care policy when asked what the U.S. government should do to curb HIV/AIDS prevalence among black women in the United States, the Los Angeles Times reports (La Ganga, Los Angeles Times, 10/6). PBS news correspondent Gwen Ifill, who moderated the debate, said to Cheney, "I want to talk to you about AIDS, and not about AIDS in China or Africa, but AIDS right here in this country, where black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their [white] counterparts. What should the government's role be in helping to end the growth of this epidemic?" Cheney said he had "not heard those numbers with respect to African-American women" and was "not aware" there was an "epidemic" of HIV/AIDS among that population. He said that the United States has "made significant progress ... in terms of the overall rate of AIDS infection" through "a combination of education and public awareness, as well as the development, as a result of research, of drugs that allow people to live longer lives even though they are infected -- obviously we need to do more of that." Edwards said HIV/AIDS prevention in the United States is part of the "bigger question" on the future of health care in the country. He said that "if kids and adults don't have access to preventative care, if they're not getting the health care that they need day after day after day, the possibility of not only developing AIDS ... but the problem of developing other life-threatening diseases is there every day of their lives."

Foreign HIV/AIDS Policy
Cheney said that President Bush has been "deeply concerned" about HIV/AIDS around the world because "in some parts of the world, we've got the entire, sort of, productive generation has been eliminated as a result of AIDS, all except for old folks and kids -- nobody to do the basic work that runs an economy." Cheney also mentioned that Bush had established the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which authorized $15 billion "to help in the international effort, to be targeted in those places where we need to do everything we can" (Washington Post debate transcript, 10/6). PEPFAR is a five-year, $15 billion program that directs funding to 12 African nations -- Botswana, Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia -- as well as Haiti, Guyana and Vietnam (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/22). Edwards said that he and Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) want to double the amount of PEPFAR funding to $30 billion. Edwards added that the Bush administration, "on the first year of their commitment [to the program]," came up "significantly short" of what was promised. Edwards added that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, "combined with the genocide that we're now seeing in Sudan, are two huge moral issues for the United States of America" (Washington Post debate transcript, 10/6).

Video of Cheney's and Edwards' debate comments on HIV/AIDS is available online in RealPlayer.

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. © 2004 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.