Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 01:19 | SYDNEY
Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 01:19 | SYDNEY

HIV/AIDS: The not-so munificent seven


Bill Bowtell

25 June 2008 09:35

President Bush may be blamed for many things, but not for his strong commitment to increasing dramatically US funding for the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Earlier this year, President Bush forged a bipartisan consensus to allocate $US50 billion over five years to the global fight against the three top preventable diseases. For the first time in the lamentable, disastrous history of the AIDS pandemic, the Bush AIDS funding package held out the promise of adequate funding vital if the spread of the pandemic is to be contained. 

But now, seven Republican senators threaten to derail the entire US AIDS funding Bill in the Senate.  They object to spending more on AIDS prevention because it necessarily involves honest discussion of sexuality and injecting drug use. These seven senators are the last diehard remnants of the politico-religious coalition that so disastrously mismanaged America's — and the world's — response to AIDS in the mid-1980s. 

Their reckless denial of the evidence about how to contain AIDS led them to oppose harm-reduction programs such as the introduction of clean needles and syringes for injecting drug users, and the promotion of condoms and widespread sex education for young adults. These policies have contained the spread of AIDS wherever they were implemented, including Australia (pace Miranda Devine and Piers Akerman). The seven senators now threaten America's long overdue attempt to reverse their previous catastrophically wrong AIDS policies.

If they succeed, the price of their recalcitrance will be paid by millions who will succumb to HIV infection and early deaths from AIDS. President Bush would do us a great favour if he joined together with the Democratic Party leadership to secure the passage of this Bill into law.