On the eve of war, President Bush delivered a State of the Union address that took many by surprise for its five-year, $15 billion emergency global AIDS plan. “Seldom has history offered a greater opportunity to do so much for so many,” he intoned, and then stated the stats:prevention for 7 million infections, meds for 2 million, health care for 10 million. Great news, right? But POZ being so, well, negative, we asked AIDS experts from different fields to read the politics between the lines:

“More money can make a huge difference, but we all know where the devil lurks: details, details, details. Why [give to] Uganda and not Malawi, Congo and others with a higher HIV prevalence? The Global AIDSFund wrestles with important questions before it distributes resources. Why roll out only $1 billion to the fund over five years?”

--Jon Cohen, AIDS reporter, Science

“I’m glad Bush recognized the pandemic’s severity. But he still doesn’t have it right: More money needs to go to the Global Fund. And money spent now—not over five years—will save more lives. And if we’re to fight AIDS, the world needs peace, not warmongering.” 

--Alan Berkman, MD, Health GAP Coalition

“The high-profile emphasis on AIDS was important. [NIAID head] Tony Fauci, I assume, is responsible for pushing the administration—he deserves credit for using his influence so effectively.”

--John Moore, AIDSresearcher

“It is encouraging to see this administration finally admit the epidemic is real. But [what about] domestic issues: a $100 million increase to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program is far short of the projected shortfall, and no increase is requested for the Minority AIDS Initiative.”

--Javier Salazar, National Minority AIDS Council

“Palming the Global Fund off with a mere $1 billion and reverting to an essentially imperialist approach ensures that funding will only go to treating the worst symptoms of the pandemic. But it won’t stop AIDS.”  

--Gus Cairns, editor, Positive Nation

“I’ll bet Bushy dumps superseded drugs, letting drug companies keep making money while preventing local production of cutting-edge drugs. Sorry, I’ve heard this before.”  

--Cindy Patton, author, activist

“It opens the floodgates of hope. It’s a breakthrough and a real shift for a conservative administration.” 

--Bono, U2 frontman, activist

“I do not believe any initiative will work. It is too late. Fifty million people are going to die. No one will make this statement publicly, but that is what I believe.” 

--Larry Kramer, author, activist