AIDS activists in the United States and South Africa on Thursday held protests against the Bush administration's AIDS policies, calling on the president to significantly boost spending on domestic and international AIDS programs. Activists in the United States protested outside the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City and outside Bush campaign offices in Harrisburg, Pa., Manchester, N.H., and Southfield, Mich.
In South Africa about 500 people protested in Johannesburg, and 350 people protested in Cape Town. The activists called on Bush to significantly boost spending on international and domestic HIV prevention, treatment, and care programs; to abandon his push for global abstinence education and opposition to condom use; and to support the use of generic anti-HIV drugs to treat AIDS sufferers in poor nations. "It's not enough to say 'Abstinence only,' " Laurie Wen of Health Global Access Project said. "That's like saying, 'We're not going to do anything for lung cancer--you just have to quit [smoking].' "
White House officials responded to the protests by defending Bush's AIDS plans, saying in particular that the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which provides HIV funds to developing nations, is vastly improving AIDS care overseas.