AIDS activists staged a protest Friday outside the Nashville office of U.S. Senate majority leader Bill Frist to voice opposition to his position on international AIDS funding. Frist has backed away from supporting a bill he initially wrote last year that would give significant U.S. funds to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and is now supporting President Bush's plan that allocates far less money to the fund.
Activists in Washington, D.C. also protested on Friday, blaring car horns and sirens, flashing lights, and handing out pamphlets outside Frist's Washington home. The protesters say Frist has allowed his allegiance to the White House to interfere with his commitment to the AIDS fight. They also claim that Bush's plan to allocate the majority of international AIDS funding to U.S.-led projects will take years to implement and that money given to the global fund would more quickly make a significant impact in HIV prevention and treatment efforts in developing countries.
Nick Smith, a spokesperson for Frist, said that Frist has not reintroduced his original AIDS funding bill because he is working with "Senate Democrats, Republicans, and the White House to craft the best legislation possible."