George W. Bush Led on AIDS. Will Obama?
The world needs President Barack Obama to be a global leader on HIV/AIDS.
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It was not that long ago that faith leaders and millions of activists organized across the globe to press President George W. Bush to respond to the AIDS pandemic and fund solutions to end extreme global poverty.
The result of bold American leadership led to nothing short of a historic wave of success. Today, nearly 4 million Africans are on life saving HIV/AIDS medicines, up from 50,000 in 2002. President Bush's legacy in the fight against global AIDS is strong, but much more needs to be done.
Barack Obama campaigned on a promise to continue that leadership. But today, his promise has yet to be kept. Fortunately, it's not too late for him to do so.
The economy is complicated and there are lots of conflicting opinions as to what the best policy is to get it headed in the right direction. The health-care system has been a mess and improvements to it are going to take a while and will be pretty complicated. Immigration reform is simply being blocked by Republicans and Democrats who haven't had the courage to lead on it.
But when it comes to turning back the AIDS pandemic and ending extreme poverty, we have a very clear path forward. There are 192 nations who committed to the Millennium Development Goals in 2001. They are a series of eight targeted goals that would produce dramatic results in turning back the tide of global pandemics and reducing extreme poverty, and they gave us a road map as to how this all could happen by 2015.
U.S. leadership on these goals, and the work needed to back them up have received broad bipartisan support within Congress. Countries across the world are now in tough economic straits, so if the United States falters in its leadership, the huge successes these goals have already accomplished could stall.
Unfortunately, one major source of funding to fight AIDS, The Presidents Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) has been neglected.
During his campaign, President Obama made a promise to increase PEPFAR funding by $1 billion a year if elected. Last year, the White House recommended a small increase of funding from $6.6 billion to $6.7 billion. It looks like PEPFAR will receive only a small increase this year. That's a broken promise.
Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street -- A Moral Compass for the New Economy, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at www.godspolitics.com. This article originally appeared on CNN. com.