- The Washington Times - Friday, March 15, 2002

Members of a presidential advisory panel on AIDS promised yesterday to go beyond politics and fight harder to prevent, treat and cure the pandemic disease.
"This issue is beyond partisanship," said Ronald V. Dellums, former California congressman and exchairman of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).
The world is in this fight together, said Mr. Dellums, who was originally appointed to PACHA by President Clinton. "Either this pandemic gets us or we get it."
"This is not a partisan issue. This is a human issue," agreed Dr. Louis Sullivan, who is one of 26 Bush administration appointees to the panel formed in 1995 to advise the White House and federal agencies about the prevention, treatment and cure for AIDS.
Dr. Sullivan is PACHA co-chairman with Dr. Tom Coburn, former Oklahoma congressman. Mr. Dellums is one of nine Clinton appointees invited to remain on the panel.
The group had a congenial first meeting yesterday, but some Clinton-era PACHA members couldn't resist admonishing the Bush administration for its support of "unproven" abstinence education.
Condoms are proven to prevent HIV/AIDS, and comprehensive sexuality education which teaches abstinence and safe sex is better for youth than simply abstinence education, said Ingrid Duran, president of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
None of the new PACHA members challenged Miss Duran's comments, but they will: At least four new members are vocal proponents of abstinence education, and one Rashida Jolley is an abstinence-education speaker.
Yesterday, however, was a day for sobering details:
cIn the United States, as of June 2001, 822,944 persons have contracted HIV/AIDS and 470,785 have died.
cGlobally, at the end of 2001, 40 million people were living with AIDS and 25 million have died of it. Another 40 million are expected to become infected by 2010.
HIV/AIDS "is a killer … that needs to be stopped," said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, who yesterday swore in the council members for their four-year terms.
The Bush administration is committed to the fight, budgeting a total of $12.9 billion for HIV/AIDS, including $255 million more for AIDS research, said Mr. Thompson. Already, he added, $597 million has been allocated for hard-hit communities, and $500 million has been pledged for a new Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
Health and Human Services is also nearing completion of a management review of its AIDS programs, which should make the department "more accountable, better-coordinated and more efficient" in running these programs, he said.


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