Proverbs tells us that where there lacks vision, the people perish. The United States has lacked vision in the fight against global HIV/AIDS, the greatest health crisis in human history. For the majority of the 42 million people infected in the world, AIDS still represents a death sentence. More than 12 million orphaned children in Africa alone interrogate our response and demand that we do more.
In his State of the Union address this winter, President Bush outlined a bold role for the United States by pledging $15 billion over five years to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. The initiative promises to provide life-prolonging treatment to 2 million people and to prevent 7 million new infections. In addition to this desperately needed new money, the president stated a principle that activists and people of faith have embraced in the fight against HIV/AIDS. "In an age of miraculous medicines," Bush said, "no person should have to hear" the words, "You've got AIDS. We can't help you. Go home and die.'"
With Bush's plan the devil lies in the details. The political landscape around HIV/AIDS will be defined by how this new commitment is implemented. The advocacy battle must turn to getting the details right. While the details may not generate the same degree of outrage, they will determine how many lives are lost or saved.