Today is World AIDS Day, on which we reflect on the global epidemic that has taken so many millions of lives and ponder ways in which we can improve world health by combating the terrible illness. In honoring the day, however, some news outlets have neglected to note the tremendous contributions to the AIDS effort undertaken by our last president.
MSNBC noted on its website a recent U.N. report that found that new cases of the syndrome are "stabilizing." "There are now 4 million people on lifesaving AIDS drugs worldwide, a 10-fold increase in five years," the article noted, adding that those drugs have saved roughly 3 million lives, according to the report (h/t NB reader Tom M.).
Yet MSNBC makes no mention of President Bush or his tremendous efforts to combat the global AIDS epidemic. It's not as if his contribution to the fight is ambiguous. U.S. News reports that the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is credited for saving roughly 2 million lives.
The Huffington Post takes it one step further in its report. Noting that President Obama received a D+ grade from a group of activists on his performance in the AIDS fight, HuffPo's Matthew Kavanagh asserts that Obama should "break from the Bush era by eliminating ideologically driven prevention programs that fail women and standing up to drug companies to drive down prices of AIDS treatment."
Even the group of activists Kavanagh cites, the Health Global Access Project, credits the "pre-existing broad bipartisan support established during the Bush Administration for increased U.S. investment to fight AIDS."
The organization lauds President Bush's accomplishments in the arena, noting that "With scale up from the last Bush administration budget, FY 2009, to be reported this week advocates expect the U.S. to approach 3 million people supported on treatment—a huge accomplishment."
Even given the tremendous success of President Bush's PEPFAR program, widely credited with providing access to life-saving treatments, MSNBC could not bring itself to even mention the former president's name. And the Huffington Post managed to turn Obama's short but sorry record on AIDS treatment into an attack on Bush.
Regardless of one's feelings about the former president, honoring World AIDS Day demands that we give credit where it is due. That any media outlet would report on the global AIDS situation without mentioning the significant contributions to the effort undertaken by President Bush does a disservice to him and all Americans that are working to end the epidemic.