Religion vs. Science: Fighting AIDS in Africa
Fact: Bush spends $60 billion a year on the war in Iraq.
Fact: Bush spends $2 billion a year on the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
Problem? I think so.
While I know there are enough reasons to take issue with President Bush and his administration right now, I feel that this country can not let the way the US is handling the AIDS epidemic in Africa go by the wayside... especially in the upcoming elections (presidential or otherwise). After glancing over the NY Times daily headlines page I remembered an article I read this summer in Rolling Stone Magazine. It was called "An Epidemic Failure: Whatever happened to Bush's pledge to combat AIDS in Africa?" And that's exactly the question Africa has been asking since Bush's campaign in 2004 when he launched PEPFAR (Presdient's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) and pledged to spend at least $15 billion over the next 5 years. Of course, he introduced the promising plan at the same time as his controversial and unpopular decision to enter Iraq. The plan would've been great, had he not asked Congress for only $2 billion in the first year and then even tried (unsuccessfully thank god) to block the extra $40 million they gave. But the really disturbing part about Bush's agenda is his "ABC" policy. ABC is the administrations motto for fighting AIDS "Abstinence" "Be Faithful" and "Condoms" with a heavy emphasis on the first two and an impractical disregard for the last. I believe that focusing on Abstinence and Being Faithful to one partner is not only completely religious based (and last time I checked there was a seperation of church and state in this country) but also impractical and extremely detrimental to sucessful programs that base their policies on condom distribution. The fact that we are now denying aid to countries with sucessful programs because they will not change their policies to coincide ultraconservative religious beliefs personally infuriates me. And the fact that the Bush administration is appeasing these religious groups because its such a large part of their constituent base is just as disheartening. By letting politics take priority over improving the human condition Bush is allowing a lethal epidemic to spread throughout Africa and other countries... one that claims at least 8,500 people each day. I think that Dr. Paul Zeitz says it best in the end of the article.... "People will look back and say, 'Why didn't they stop the dying?' Why don't we show our compassionate selves? What kind of country are we?" I've been asking the same question myself lately.