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Commentary

Bush's Talk and Results on AIDS
Sebastian Mallaby, Washington Post, 5-29-06

Sebastian Mallaby comes to the defense of the Bush administration's AIDS policy, a favorite target of AIDS activist groups and left–leaning critics:

The Bush administration's critics should give credit where it's due. And when it comes to the global AIDS crisis, it is due—big–time.

Five years ago, the U.S. government's total contribution to fighting HIV–AIDS abroad stood at $840 million. The Bush team was rightly pilloried for trade policies that impeded poor countries' efforts to buy cheap generic AIDS drugs. But at the start of 2003, the administration had a hallelujah moment. In that year's State of the Union address, President Bush promised $15 billion over five years to fight the pandemic. It was the biggest commitment to a global health challenge announced by any government, ever.

Naturally, there were skeptics. The administration's envoys endured boos and yells at international AIDS conferences; they will probably face more at this week's United Nations AIDS summit. But three years after Bush's $15 billion pledge, the skepticism has proved mostly unfounded.

Unfortunately, criticism of U.S. AIDS policy is only a small part of a growing global movement that seeks to dismantle intellectual property rights and demonize private sector medical research. Ultimately, ideologues would like to turn pharmaceutical R&D budgets over to unelected UN bureaucrats. That movement, in the long run, is what AIDS patients really ought to fear.



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