World AIDS Day Opinions

Bush To Congress: Continue Fighting AIDS Worldwide

In a Washington Post opinion piece, former President George W. Bush reflects on his administration’s commitment to fight HIV/AIDS around the world. “In all of these efforts, my concern was results. I was frankly skeptical of some past foreign assistance programs. In this crisis, we needed not only more resources but also to use them differently,” Bush writes, adding, “I firmly believe it has served American interests to help prevent the collapse of portions of the African continent.”

“On this World AIDS Day, considerable progress has been made. … However, considerable need remains,” according to Bush. “We still hope for an AIDS vaccine. In the meantime, there are millions on treatment who cannot be abandoned. And the progress in many African nations depends on the realistic hope of new patients gaining access to treatment. Why get tested if AIDS drugs are restricted to current patients? On AIDS, to stand still is to lose ground,” he argues.  

Bush concludes: “I am happily out of the political business. But I can offer some friendly advice to members of Congress, new and old. A thousand pressing issues come with each day. But there are only a few that you will want to talk about in retirement with your children. The continuing fight against global AIDS is something for which America will be remembered. And you will never regret the part you take” (12/1).

Funding The Fight Against HIV/AIDS

“Over the last decade, we have seen dramatic progress in both treatment and funding [for HIV/AIDS]. … In spite of these efforts, only one-third of people who need treatment are receiving it,” former President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, writes in a commentary in The Independent.  

“We risk losing our momentum, unless we find new ways to fill the gaps left by reductions in government funding caused by the global economic crisis. And we need to save more lives with the money we do have,” Clinton writes, suggesting, that the “most promising way to raise more funds is through very large numbers of small contributions which can be made in user-friendly ways.” He cites France’s fee on airline tickets as an example. “In the meantime, we must do more with less. That means saving money on commodities and promoting better co-ordination of funding between donors and national governments. It means ensuring that low-cost/high-impact interventions are widely adopted, and asking donor nations to improve their own delivery systems so that a higher percentage of aid funds are spent in the beneficiary nations and on the problems they are intended to alleviate,” according to Clinton. He goes on to highlight a “few ways in which we can maximise the impact of our efforts in a period where funding isn’t keeping up with the increasing needs” (12/1).  

AIDS Still Deserves Our Attention, Resources

In an opinion piece reflecting on the evolution of the global fight against HIV/AIDS, musician and advocate Elton John writes in The Independent: “I would make the case that AIDS is still worthy of our attention, resources, and effort – now, more than ever before. Not because of my personal connection to a disease that has taken so many friends and colleagues over the years. … In fact, I am compelled not by despair but by hope. … I’m motivated by the progress that AIDS has quite unintentionally moved forward, rather than the destruction it has left in its wake.”

“I understand the challenges of getting 10 million patients the treatment they still need and filling a funding shortfall of $10 billion in the midst of a widespread economic crisis. … I know the barriers that exist to building up the capacity of health care systems, training enough health care workers, and eradicating dangerous stigmas that keep many people from knowing their status and obtaining the medicines that could save their lives,” John writes. “Yet, on this World AIDS Day, I hope to share how a disease that once made us feel helpless can make us feel hopeful – and even proud. … I hope to leave you with a renewed sense that not only is this battle worth fighting, it is one we can win” (12/1).

U.S. Commitment To Fighting HIV/AIDS

A VOA News editorial reflecting the views of the U.S. government marks World AIDS Day with quotes from U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Eric Goosby. “We must all keep in our thoughts those who have lost their lives to AIDS. It’s in their honor that we work every day to provide HIV prevention, treatment and care to millions across the globe,” Goosby said. “Yet, it’s also a day to celebrate those whose lives have been improved and saved thanks to global efforts to fight this devastating disease,” he added. “Globally, about 5.2 million people in low- and middle-income countries were on HIV treatment at the end of 2009,” according to Goosby, who notes that PEPFAR “was a major contributor to the increase.”

“Dr. Goosby added that the U.S. and its partner countries will soon support measures that will help more than twelve million people avoid new HIV infections. The program will also provide HIV treatment for more than 4 million people, and care for over twelve million people,” the editorial notes (12/1).

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