Saturday, December 02, 2006

Politics of World AIDs Day

A day after World AIDs Day, I came across this article in the Boston Globe. It seem that Christian conservatives have a problem with the Global Fund to Fight AIDs the primary umbrella for monetary distribution to prevent the spread of AIDs. They do not like fact that condoms are the main tools used in prevention and that the fund does not distribute enough money to faith based organizations. The funds are distributed to the governments and organizations where they will do the most, period. If the UN and most NGO's are best position to help and do not preaching abstinence then let they do their job. So because of this they want US to CUT Funding to the Global Fund WHAT!!!! Excuse ME!!!

This is the worst disease to hit the human race since the Black Plague and things are not getting any better. In Sub-Sahara Africa this disease is a death sentence. AIDs is rapidly spreading from the continent to India and China the two most populated countries in the world. We need to make sure the funds are there to educate people and prevent this from spreading. Our government needs to do and give as much as they can to prevent the spread of AIDs.

In the 1980's the religious right ignored HIV/AIDs because they only saw it as a "Gay" disease. While they sat back and watched 20,000 + died in the United States during the Reagan and Bush's fathers administration. They figured it was God's will and the gay community was being punished. Again because of their petty world view they want people to suffer. On the world stage many still think that the United States is not contributing enough. We pledge more then we actually give and we are one of the richest countries in the world. We have the resource, research facilities and medical technology to assist but we do not this effectively.

In my opinion the Christian conservatives are a cause not the cure. If they want more money to go to faith based organizations then fine they are free to donate to them. As for the money that the government gives to the Global Fight to Stop Aids, we should double our funding and show the world we can help with out using military force. Below is a copy of the article.

Faith groups urge cuts to AIDS fund
Allege opposition to Christian efforts

By John Donnelly, Globe Staff | December 1, 2006

LAKE FOREST, Calif. -- Some leading Christian conservatives, angry over the Global Fund to Fight AIDS's promotion of condoms and its perceived lack of support for faith-based programs, are pushing Congress to cut US support for the AIDS initiative, which was initiated by President Bush in a Rose Garden ceremony five years ago with a $200 million commitment.

The fund -- whose full name is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria -- has become one of the pillars of the international effort to fight infectious diseases, growing into a $6.6 billion organization that supports programs in 136 countries.

It is a primary vehicle for the AIDS-fighting efforts of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The only larger HIV and AIDS program in the world is the president's $15 billion, five-year plan.

But the Global Fund, which works closely with foreign governments, is not nearly as popular among conservative Christians in the United States. Some take issue with the Global Fund's policies, which include buying clean needles for drug users, and many are furious that just 6 percent of its program dollars goes to faith-based groups.

"There's cancer in the fund," said Peter L. Brandt, senior director of government and public policy at the Christian group Focus on the Family. "It does such an unbelievable job in discriminating against faith-based organizations."

Fund officials, worried about the religious right's influence in Congress, are pledging to try to give more money to religious charities. The executive director of the fund, Richard G.A. Feachem , yesterday told 2,000 people at an AIDS conference organized by the influential Saddleback Church in Lake Forest that the battle against the virus "will only succeed if the great faiths of the world become totally mobilized."

Feachem, in an interview, said the fund "wants to see many more programs" run by faith groups, though most funding decisions are made by local boards.

Feachem's visit to the church-organized conference occurred as the Senate is considering a proposal to more than double the Bush administration's $300 million budget request for the fund, to $700 million next year; the House wants to spend $445 million. This year, Congress sent $545 million to the fund, $245 million more than Bush requested.

Nonetheless, Brandt said he wants the government to eliminate all spending on the Global Fund's HIV programs because it is not providing sufficient money to faith groups and has given little support to abstinence messages. Brandt said the government could continue to support the fund's tuberculosis and malaria programs.

Some other Christian activists, such as Raymond Ruddy , president of the Gerard Health Foundation in South Natick, which gives about $2 million annually to anti abortion and abstinence programs worldwide, want all US money cut from the fund.

"I see a direct correlation of dollars given to the Global Fund and dollars taken away from" the Bush administration's AIDS efforts, Ruddy said. "The Global Fund is systematically excluding faith-based groups from getting money, and that's not right."

The Bush administration, for its part, has taken something of a middle ground, favoring spending of no more than $300 million on the fund this year.

"The Global Fund has to work; it has to be an integral part of the global response to AIDS," Ambassador Mark R. Dybul , US global AIDS coordinator, said in an interview in his Washington office. But Dybul said he wants the majority of government funds directed to the president's program because he believes it is "right now our most rapid response" to the AIDS pandemic.

Christian health associations deliver at least 40 percent of healthcare in several African countries, including Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Liberia, and Kenya, according to UN figures. In the past year, the US program spent 24 percent of its funds on faith-based groups.

Christoph Benn , director of external relations for the Global Fund, said 6 percent of the fund's principal recipients are religious groups, but money also flows to faith-based subcontractors, although the organization does not track the spending.

He said its system makes it difficult to earmark contracts to faith-based groups. Country oversight boards, consisting largely of government officials and community activists, put together proposals and a Geneva-based technical advisory panel selects recipients only among submitted plans. Faith-based groups hold 4 percent of seats on the country boards, according to fund documents.

Benn objected to several other allegations US Christians made , saying that many programs support abstinence-only messages for young people and also emphasize marital fidelity.

Some US Christian leaders support the fund. Rick Warren , head of Saddleback Church and author of the bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life ," gave Feachem, the Global Fund's director, a bear hug yesterday and pledged that he would work with the fund.

The battle over the fund, though, only is expected to intensify in the weeks leading up to the vote by Congress, expected early next year.

Shepherd Smith , who was instrumental in persuading Congress to set aside 33 percent of US AIDS prevention funds to support abstinence messages, said he and Ruddy tried a year ago to persuade the fund's board to increase spending on faith-based groups. "We were just blown off," he said.

Some Christians' objections also are personal. A letter written earlier this year to members of Congress and signed by Ruddy and Focus on the Family decried the election of Asia Russell , a longtime AIDS activist, to the fund's board.

"She served as spokeswoman for the group who tried to strip naked at the [2004 Republican National] Convention as a protest against Bush administration policies," the letter said, adding, "The fact that the fund would elect a woman with zero qualifications to its board sends a clear message that this is not a serious healthcare organization but, rather, a group dedicated to pursuing a social agenda opposed to US policy."

Bernard Rivers , editor of the Global Fund Observer , an independent newsletter that reports on the fund, defended Russell's election, calling her "phenomenally talented and hard - working."

Russell said in an interview that "my qualifications are not the issue. The issue is the extreme, radical religious right attacking the Global Fund and its supporters because the fund is driven by what countries actually want and doesn't fund unscientifically and technically unsound approaches." She was referring to abstinence-only programs.

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