The Point That Bill Clinton Seems to Miss

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Point That Bill Clinton Seems to Miss

From Reuters:
Former President Bill Clinton leaped to the defense of the Bush administration's AIDS efforts on Tuesday, saying the United States is spending more to fight HIV than any other government.

Clinton joined Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in praising President George W. Bush's President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, saying it has done more good than harm.

... "If you take out the 30 percent of the money that has to be spent on [abstinence] -- 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.
Yes, the U.S. is devoting a lot of money to address HIV and AIDS, and the Bush administration deserves a brief round of applause for that. But what Clinton doesn't seem to acknowledge is the effect that the abstinence mandate has on how developing countries spend their own money.

As the Washington Post reported earlier this year:
The requirement that a large fraction of President Bush's global AIDS plan go to promote abstinence and fidelity is causing confusion in many countries and in a few is eroding other prevention efforts, including ones to reduce mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

... Of the 15 "focus countries" -- 12 African countries, plus Haiti, Guyana and Vietnam -- nine reduced the amount of money for programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV in their 2006 budgets to meet the spending target for abstinence promotion.

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