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Increase the U.S. Contribution to the Global AIDS Fund!

Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report

Hundreds of College Students Rally in Boston to Urge Congress to Increase U.S. Contribution to Global AIDS Fund

About 400 students rallied last week in Boston's City Hall Plaza to urge the United States to increase its contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Boston Globe reports.

Students from "dozens of universities" on the East Coast attended the rally -- organized by the Student Global AIDS Campaign, a network of students from more than 200 universities and high schools who are committed to fighting HIV/AIDS -- and heard from speakers ranging from Harvard University professors to former Miss Universe Mpule Kwelagobe of Botswana. Ben Wikler, a Harvard junior who organized the group, said that three things prompted the rally: the creation of the global fund, rock star Bono's "globe-trotting politicking" on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS and "the fact that we suddenly found out that half of our generation (in parts of Africa) is going to die from [HIV/AIDS]." Sen. John Kerry is being called upon to 'demand' the U.S. government increase global AIDS funding by $2.5 billion

The students specifically called on Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to "demand" that the government increase its $300 million contribution to the global fund to $2.5 billion.

Halting State Budget Cuts

The students also urged Massachusetts state lawmakers not to cut nearly $10 million for HIV/AIDS prevention, counseling and testing from the state budget (Belkin, Boston Globe, 4/29).

The Massachusetts HIV/AIDS Bureau's budget was cut 20% this year to $41 million, leading the agency to curb testing and counseling services. State lawmakers have proposed cutting another 20% next year, which would bring the agency's budget to $33 million.

On Saturday, members of Boston's black and Latino communities spoke out against the proposed cuts at the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts' 19th annual Bayard Rustin breakfast at the John F. Kennedy Library. Michael Duffy, the new executive director of the AIDS Action Committee, urged attendees to rally Tuesday at the State House to demonstrate "dissatisfaction with the 'devastating' funding plan" to reduce the HIV/AIDS agency's budget for next year.

He was joined by keynote speaker E. Denise Simmons, a Cambridge city councilor, who urged gays to help reduce the stigma attached to AIDS by revealing their sexual orientation. "We ask you to join us in being out and proud," she said.

According to the state Department of Public Health, about half of the state's 13,298 people living with HIV or AIDS are black or Hispanic even though the two groups account for only 11% of the state's population, making minorities four times more likely than the general public to be HIV-positive (Russell, Boston Globe, 4/28).
Global Fund Should Get More U.S. Support, Increase Cooperation With Other Development Organizations, Editorials Say

Following Thursday's announcement by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria that it would award $378 million in grant funding over two years to 40 programs in 31 countries and had "fast-track[ed]" for approval an additional $238 million for 18 other proposals, both the New York Times and the Washington Post published editorials regarding the fund.

  • New York Times: If U.S. lawmakers "begin to respond to AIDS as the catastrophe it is" by increasing the U.S. contribution to the global fund, lawmakers in other countries "will follow," a New York Times editorial says. Although fund officials last week announced grants totaling $616 million -- "all the money [the fund] has" -- the "reluctance" by wealthy nations to financially back the fund meant that "expensive" antiretroviral treatment programs were "not emphasiz[ed]." However, as some "influential" Congress members, including Sens. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), have proposed increases in HIV/AIDS spending, that "reluctance" might "begin to change," the editorial concludes (New York Times, 4/27).

  • Washington Post: The "succes[s]" of the global fund depends on how the donor governments allow it to function, a Washington Post editorial says. While the fund was created as a separate organization "outside the umbrella of the United Nations or the World Bank" in order to improve its efficiency, the fund must forge relationships with other development agencies to avoid the "pitfalls" of putting additional stress on developing nations by "adding to the list of donors that [these countries] must cater to" or by ineffectively monitoring the quality of the programs it funds. The "shortcomings of existing institutions often reflect the warring priorities of member governments, and if the same conflicts are projected onto the new global fund, it may perform little better," the editorial concludes (Washington Post, 4/29).
    This summary is from the Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report provided by, a free health policy news summary and webcasting service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for by National Journal Group Inc. © 2001 by National Journal Group Inc. and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved

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