Bush’s AIDS program effective in Africa

Bush’s AIDS program effective in Africa

In yesterday’s Boston Globe, an unusual voice offered testimony to the much-reviled Bush administrations $15 billion program to fight AIDS in Africa: the former Africa bureau chief for the Globe John Donnelly.

Dr. John Idoko (of Nigeria) now treats nearly 6,000 HIV-positive patients. He has expanded his clinic three times in five years, and his waiting room once again is too crowded….The major reason for Idoko’s success is the Bush administration’s AIDS program, which in the last three years has sent billions of dollars to Africa and helped save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. When I moved to Africa three years ago, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, was just getting off the ground. As I return to Washington this month, the $15 billion program is just hitting its stride, and many Africans believe it has become the single most effective initiative in fighting the deadly scourge....Only you wouldn’t know it in America—or Canada, or Europe, for that matter—given the tenor of the AIDS debate in Washington and the nature of the international media coverage.”

The pillars of this program are the ABC method that was proven so effective in Uganda long before the US program started: Abstinence, Be faithful before marriage, Condoms only if absolutely necessary. Now from a Catholic moral perspective, that last one is problematic, but the reality is that the first two are so effective that the third is hardly necessary.

Why not faith-based groups?

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  • PEPFAR got some unusual support in Toronto from Bill Clinton.  Of course, I’m not sure that it wasn’t really damning with faint praise…

    Clinton, whose foundation negotiates cheaper prices for drugs and HIV tests in developing nations, said PEPFAR has done a lot of good, despite a requirement that 33 percent of prevention funding be spent on abstinence-only programs.


    “If you take out the 30 percent of the money that has to be spent on that—the other 70 percent is still a whopping amount of money and more money in federal aid than I think anybody else is getting,” Clinton told a plenary session of the conference.

    That said, Clinton joined the majority of experts who say abstinence-only programs do not work. Better, he said, are programs that include abstinence counseling as part of a range of options.