Waymon Hudson

State of the Union HIV Hypocrisy

Filed By Waymon Hudson | January 29, 2008 12:27 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, Politics
Tags: George W. Bush, HIV/AIDS, State of the Union

While there were many horrible things about Bush’s SOTU last night, I think what offended and disgusted me the most was his hypocrisy on HIV/AIDS.

The administration has drastically slashed funding for HIV programs in our country, but Bush holds himself up as some kind of hero when dealing with HIV in Africa. In fact he flew in a woman, Tatu Msangi- a nurse and single mother from Tanzania, who has benefited from some of the programs there. The guest list bills her and her daughter as “examples of the hope and compassion that is transforming lives.”

Sounds good, right? Look closer.

The sad reality is that as a person with HIV and a non-resident, Tatu is actually barred from entering the US. That’s right- the U.S. is only one of 13 countries, including Sudan, Saudi Arabia and China, that bars people with HIV from entering the country.

While there are special “waivers” one can get for this Jesse Helms originated law, the legal barriers are in most cases too massive to overcome. People who don’t disclose their status have been known to be stopped in customs when found with HIV meds and refused entry.

The administration apparently got a waiver for this woman from this out-dated, horrific ban just to parade her as an example of how much they care. What a great example of “hope and compassion.”

Want to really transform some lives? Try getting rid of this demeaning and dehumanizing ban, since I doubt the government will be handing out a lot more waivers so easily.

That is, until the next time Bush needs someone new to use as a prop to make himself look good.


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Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | January 29, 2008 1:49 PM

Waymon,

I hope that you weren't surprised at this. The Bush administration has been nothing if not hypocritical on virtually every issue relating to HIV/AIDS and to the LGBT community.

He has been an unmitigated disaster from day one.

Meanwhile, LGBT activists continue to engage in the usual intramural bloodletting trying to prove who's politics is purer.

Michael Bedwell | January 29, 2008 3:09 PM

My own understanding is that US programs have not been "slashed" so much as flat-lined, meaning funding has not kept up with inflation which amounts to reductions. Per “The New York Times,” “spending for U.S. domestic prevention efforts dropped 19 percent in inflation-adjusted terms from 2002 to 2007.”

And while I agree that Bush fils is a heinous villain in this area as so many others, I'm less concerned about the HIV+ immigration ban, reprehensible as it is, than the disastrous effect of his policies on people around the world who, in their fondest dreams, would never have the chance to come to the US even if there were no ban.

Specifically, I refer to the abstinence/anti condom policies at the core of his much vaunted PEPFAR program. Even the “liberal” “NY Times” sent Bush an early valentine a few weeks ago about how wonderful it’s been, including a kiss from that now-shell of a once great man, John Kerry. They repeat the math error typically involved in praising Republicans: it’s only good in contrast to how much bad came before. And even they must acknowledge that Bush has indicated no change in the structure which requires that ONE THIRD of the money must be spent to “teach” abstinence, and that “Much of the money has been channeled through American religious-based organizations.” An acquaintance of mine who has worked in HIV/AIDS programs at both the state and federal level blames Bush fils, because of those policies, for more preventable AIDS deaths around the world than even Reagan.

How wrong-headed is it? For those less familiar with it, there is no greater indicator than the fact that Brazil turned down $40 million in US funding because they had already seen great results from condom-use education and refused to backtrack on it.

So what of the Dem candidates' positions going forward? I hope anyone with better understanding of funding timelines will comment, e.g., though PEPFAR expires this month, is there still money available until Congress passes an extensions/revision?

Two things are clear, the Dems would eliminate the abstinence-only/anti condom provisions, and, at least two of them, radically increase funding even beyond that requested by Bush. The plan just now expired allocated $15 billion over five years which was far too little. Gay Republicans are still blowing kisses at him for requesting to double that to $30 billion over the next five years—still too little given that 33 million are now infected with HIV and, of those, 2.5 million were NEWLY infected last year alone, and, again, the effects of inflation.

There are links below to the HIV/AIDS plans of the top Dems. Frankly, I haven’t had time yet to read them closely [Clinton’s is 8 pages; Edwards’ 5; Obama’s 3], but from a quick scan it appears that Edwards and Clinton would increase that funding to $50 billion or $4 billion more per year than proposed while Obama seems to speak only of an additional $1 billion a year.

http://www.johnedwards.com/issues/health-care/hiv-aids/

http://www.hillaryclinton.com/news/release/view/?id=4392

www.kaisernetwork.org/election2008/OBAMAFactSheetAIDSFINAL.pdf

Well, there's nothing Bush can do that wouldn't look like a publicity stunt. It's all he's done his entire presidency...

The sham of American politics! Look into the abyss, Mr. Bush, for that is your legacy!

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | January 31, 2008 1:01 AM

Waymon, thanks for pointing this out!

And Michael, for filling in the gaps.

I remember when Bush gave his first speech on global HIV, promising increased funding. I basically thought at the time, "I'm sure as hell not holding my breath for him to follow through on this one."

What a twisted, hypocritical liar he is.