Bush Commits $5 Billion to Combat Global AIDS, Poverty
Announcement Hailed as HIV/AIDS Advisory Council Convenes in Washington
(WASHINGTON, DC) – Calling for a "new compact for global development," President George W. Bush announced at a speech before the Inter-American Development Bank yesterday that the United States will increase global development funding by $5 billion over three years to combat HIV/AIDS, illiteracy and poverty in the developing world and build training and education infrastructure for economic growth.
The President was accompanied by Bono of U2 as he made the announcement, which would bring total U.S. development assistance to developing nations up to over $11 billion per year.
"This announcement shows the continued commitment of President Bush to eradicating the threat of AIDS around the world," said Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "AIDS in the developing world as a threat to our national security, and this is another bold step by a President that is doing more to fight AIDS around the world than any previous American president in our history."
"In many nations, in many regions, poverty is broad and seemingly inescapable, leaving a dark shadow across a world that is increasingly illuminated by opportunity," the President said, adding that in the African nation of Malawi, "thousands of teachers die each year from AIDS, and life expectancy has fallen to only 38 years."
"Successful development requires citizens who are literate, who are healthy and prepared and able to work," the President said, emphasizing the U.S. commitment to food and humanitarian aid and to the Global Fund to fight AIDS and infectious disease. "And we will work with Congress to increase this commitment, to show our love and compassion by increasing our commitment as the fund gets organized, develops a strategy and shows success. We're spending billions more on AIDS research and other programs to fight the disease around the world."
Bono called the President's announcement "a significant step," adding that "there were people who told me a Republican president would never do anything like this." Bono told NBC News that Bush "made a promise to me that if we can prove these aid programs work, funding will not be a problem."
The development aid announcement coincided with the two-day opening meeting of the new Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) yesterday. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson swore in 26 Bush appointees to the Council, who joined 9 members appointed during the Clinton Administration.
"We have a strong, diverse and committed team on the new Council," Tafel said. "We look forward to continuing to work with the Council, the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans in developing new, innovative policy approaches to fighting HIV/AIDS, and responding to the epidemic as it exists today."
The Council reviewed the state of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and around the world, and received briefings from officials from the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, the State Department, HHS and the U.S. Agency for International Development, and began work on their mission to propose policies and action steps for the Bush Administration to take in combating AIDS in the U.S. and around the world.
Thompson, along with Joe O'Neill, acting director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy at HHS, explained a management review underway for all federally funded HIV/AIDS programs in order to improve efficiency and coordination, and to increase accountability.
Today, the second meeting day for the Council, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases said that a vaccine against HIV could be a decade or more away, but a vaccine with at least a partial effect is in clinical trials and "some global health good could come of that."
Council member Hank McKinnell, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, also announced that his company will freeze the price of the anti-HIV treatment Viracept.
The Council is co-chaired by former HHS Secretary Louis Sullivan and former Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK), and is based at the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.
Log Cabin Republicans is the nation's largest gay and lesbian Republican organization, with state and local chapters nationwide, a full-time national office and a federal political action committee.