aids in africa update
President Bush is asking Congress to set aside $30 billion dollars to fund treatment and prevention programs to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This would make it possible to treat 2.5 million people, doubling our spending on the crisis.
It's no secret that I'm not President Bush's biggest fan, but to his credit, his administration has done far more to help Africa than the Clinton administration ever did. And while I disagree with the emphasis on abstinence-only education and the defunding of family planning clinics, at least the Bush administration has recognized that there is a problem and has made some efforts to follow through on solutions. Much of the PEPFAR funding goes to Africa, and while the program isn't 100% ideal (primarily because it is limited to only 12 African countries, Haiti, Guyana, and Vietnam), more than 1 million people have received treatment for HIV/AIDS through the program.
I don't know if Congress will actually budget $30 billion for this effort, but this will force them to allocate a considerable amount of money to the fight. I do know that millions of people suffer needlessly from what is now a treatable disease. We should take responsibility for caring for those in need. I believe that helping families who must deal with the effects of HIV/AIDS is a mandate for those of us who call ourselves Christians.
The more than we can do to find funding from any source, the more people we can help. An example of how much things are improving in the HIV/AIDS fight is Cameroon, which just announced that it will be able to provide free ARV's to the country's HIV/AIDS patients with funding from the Global Fund, the Clinton Foundation, and Unitaid. This would have been unheard of as little as five years ago, and is a welcome step.
The president and the first lady will visit Africa next month. Here's guessing they won't find their way to Goma, but I hope that what they see and do while they're on the continent will spur the president to find ways to help even more people who suffer from the effects of this terrible disease.