U.S. Fights Back in AIDS Dispute
AIDS Coordinator Rejects Annan's Plea for $1 Billion
By Ben Hirschler
Wednesday, July 14, 2004; 12:02 PM
BANGKOK, Thailand - The United States fought back Wednesday against widespread attacks on its AIDS policies, insisting it is leading the fight against the killer epidemic and spending more money on it than the rest of the world combined.
But it rejected a plea from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to inject $1 billion a year into a global AIDS fund.
"It's not going to happen," U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Randall Tobias told a small group of reporters at the 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok.
"The president has requested $200 million for next year and I think that is more than adequate to meet the requirements of the Global Fund in terms of getting money out for putting programs in place," he said.
Controversy about U.S. payments to the public-private Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, launched in 2002 as a brainchild of Annan and needing more than $3 billion for 2005, has overshadowed this week's discussions at the AIDS summit attended by 17,000 people.
Earlier in the day, some 50 protesters chanting "Bush lies, millions die" delayed Tobias' speech to the conference in which he mounted a robust defense of President Bush's AIDS policies.
"This year, America is spending nearly twice as much to fight global AIDS as the rest of the world's donor governments combined," Tobias said.
Room existed for different approaches in fighting AIDS, he said, rejecting accusations that Washington's decision to launch its own program and its support for sexual abstinence as a pillar of policy was undermining a unified strategy.
"HIV/AIDS is the real enemy. The denial, stigma and complacency that fuel HIV/AIDS -- these are real enemies too. It is morally imperative that we direct our energies at these enemies, not at one another," he said.
"Preventing AIDS is not a multiple-choice test," he said. "Abstinence works. Being faithful works. Condoms work. Each has its place."
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