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January 7, 2008

Is PEPFAR George Bush’s Greatest Bipartisan Accomplishment?

In its January 5 issue, The New York Times examines George W. Bush’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), suggesting that it “may be the most lasting bipartisan accomplishment of the Bush presidency” (, 1/5).

Bush has proposed a new five-year commitment of $30 billion to fight HIV/AIDS globally—up from his original proposal of $15 billion during his 2003 State of the Union address.

“It’s a good thing that he wanted to spend the money,” Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who challenged Bush for the presidency in 2004, said in the Times article. “I think it represents a tremendous accomplishment for the country.” According to the Times, however, Kerry, like many AIDS activists, criticized Bush’s requirement that one third of expenditures be used to fund abstinence-only education programs.

Planning at first to treat 2 million people, prevent infection for 7 million people and provide care for 10 million at-risk orphans and small children, PEPFAR has thus far treated 1.4 million people and provided care for nearly 6.7 million people, the Times reports. In addition, 152,000 infants have been protected from perinatal infection thanks to antiretroviral drugs provided by the program. Meanwhile, as the Times noted on December 2, 2007, spending for U.S. domestic prevention efforts dropped 19 percent in inflation-adjusted terms from 2002 to 2007.

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