The PJ Tatler

AIDS Conference Comes to DC for First Time Since 1990; Obama Will Send 'Brief Video Message'

The International AIDS Conference next week will be held in Washington for the first time since 1990 — and the White House just issued a notice that President Obama will not be there.

Instead, Obama “will provide a brief video message to welcome Conference attendees from around the world to Washington.” The White House will host a reception on July 26 “to honor those people living with HIV and to thank men and women who have been fighting with dignity on the frontlines against this disease. Further details about that event will be provided at a later date.”

Putting the half-glass-full spin on the news, the White House titled the press release “Obama Administration to Participate in the 19th International AIDS Conference” and began with a quote from Obama about his administration’s commitment to end AIDS.

“Thanks to bipartisan action by Presidents Obama and Bush and the Congress to lift the ban on people living with HIV entering the country — we are at a tipping point in the fight against AIDS,” the White House said. “Under the President’s leadership, the Administration has increased overall funding to combat HIV/AIDS to record levels. We have launched the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States to prevent and treat HIV in America. Globally, the Obama Administration has committed to treating 6 million people by the end of 2013 and is increasing the impact and sustainability of our investments.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend the conference.

It’s not know what Obama has on the schedule during the conference that runs July 22-27, but he has campaign stops through the end of this week every day but Wednesday.

Obama has been often heckled at events by protesters saying he isn’t doing enough to combat HIV and AIDS.

Meanwhile, President George W. Bush spent Independence Day in Zambia building a women’s clinic to battle cervical cancer, which has a high rate in the country in part due to the high number of women living with HIV. In 2003, Bush’s AIDS initiative initially funded $15 billion worth of anti-retroviral drugs and treatment to extend the lives of millions of Africans with HIV and AIDS.

U2 frontman Bono said in December that Bush had set the standard for Obama to follow on combating AIDS. “George kind of knocked it out of the park,” he said on The Daily Show. “I can tell you, and I’m actually here to tell you, that America now has 5 million people being kept alive by these drugs.”