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January 29, 2003

Reaction to Bush's AIDS Proposal

I was trying to be as positive about Bush's AIDS proposal as possible, but the details are not encouraging.

To begin with, Bush is not immediately ratching up funding but "projecting" large increases in future years, while only increasing funding by $700 million for the 2004 fiscal year. See Africa Action Demands Dollars to Match Announcement on AIDS in Africa.

The other problem is that the $300 dollars per year cost of treating AIDS patients is only possible by buying generic drugs, whose makers often ignore patents held by pharmaceutical makers. Will Bush actually do that, or diminish the real help by bolstering pharma profits while treating fewer people?

Also, domestic AIDS activists are worried that this global compassion is tied to cuts in domestic AIDS spending. Tom Coates, director of the University of California (SF) AIDS Research Institute, noted the administration also plans to cut funding for a program that brings AIDS drugs to Americans who can't afford them.

"I've been in Washington, D.C., last week, prioritizing who gets on the waiting list for drugs in the United States."
If Bush is cutting most domestic funding and refusing to spend the global AIDS money until years down the road, there is a justified suspicion that this is just a gambit to sell the war, then let the rightwing Congress kill the program in the out-years.

Posted by Nathan at January 29, 2003 01:50 PM

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