Bushies are crowing about their AIDS initiative. It's a lot more money than the feds have provided in the past, but, as The Nation reminds us (article not available online to nonsubscribers), there are, er, a few strings attached:
A third of the bill's prevention dollars are tagged for abstinence-only messages, which forbid the mention of condoms, an indispensable tool wherever rates of infection have been reduced. The money channeled through USAID may not be spent on syringe exchange, a proven strategy for reducing the drug-injection infections that now drive the epidemic in Russia and elsewhere. Churches and missionary operations will receive special consideration in the awarding of grants, while family planning networks, the main source of community healthcare in much of the developing world and the best positioned to deliver HIV care, have been forced to shutter clinics under Bush's 2001 global gag rule, which ended aid to outfits that mention abortion as an option for women with unplanned pregnancies. Many of the bill's treatment dollars will be wasted because the Administration continues to support restrictions on the production and export of cheap, generic HIV medications. And the bill continues to starve the UN's Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria in favor of unilateral aid that can be used for political ends--much of it bound by restrictive "buy American" provisions.
Hey, but other than that it's a great bill!