President Bush on Tuesday used part of his speech to the United Nations General Assembly to tout his administration's support of international AIDS programs through the five-year, $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Los Angeles Times reports. Much of the speech was a defiant defense of the U.S. decision to invade Iraq despite opposition from the United Nations, but Bush also outlined the Administration's international "compassion" agenda.
"Because we believe in human dignity, America and many nations have established a global fund to fight
AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria," Bush said. "America has undertaken a $15 billion effort to provide prevention and treatment and humane care in nations afflicted by AIDS, placing a special focus on 15 countries where the need is most urgent." PEPFAR provides U.S. international AIDS funds to Botswana, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Haiti, Guyana, and Vietnam. Bush also called AIDS "the greatest health crisis of our time" and said that U.S. efforts to fight the disease will "bring new hope to those who have walked too long in the shadow of death."
AIDS groups, however, say the Administration--and PEPFAR particularly--have done little to boost HIV treatment efforts in developing countries. "More than a year and a half after PEPFAR was first introduced, we believe fewer than 16,000 people are receiving lifesaving antiretrovirals as a direct result of PEPFAR--far, far short of the president's stated goal of half a million people in treatment by the end of this month," said AIDS Healthcare Foundation president Michael Weinstein. The Global AIDS Alliance also points out that the U.S. contribution to the U.N.-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria is only one fifth of what U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan requested of the United States.