The PJ Tatler

Kerry Says Obama 'Set a Higher Standard' to Fight AIDS Than Bush's Historic Commitment

The White House marked World AIDS Day today without either Secretary of State John Kerry or National Security Advisor Susan Rice mentioning President George W. Bush’s historic investment in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that has supplied life-saving drugs to millions of patients infected with HIV worldwide.

In fact, last year AIDS activists were noting that the Obama administration kept chipping away at the successful program, knocking down PEPFAR funding 12 percent since 2010.

“When the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief first was launched in 2003, there were then some 10,000 infections daily. Today, new HIV infections are down by nearly 40 percent, though still higher, obviously, than we want them to be. Back then, more than 2 million people died from AIDS-related causes on a worldwide basis. Today, we’ve cut those numbers by 34 percent. Back then, AIDS threatened to wipe out a whole generation, leaving behind 14 million orphans and vulnerable children. Today, we’ve slashed new infections among children in half,” Kerry said today at an event in D.C.

“So it is fair to say that we have achieved much of this because President Obama, when he came into office, was determined to set a higher standard.”

Kerry added that “our commitment has only been strengthened by the progress that we’ve made and the lives that we have saved.”

“We’re not done yet,” he said. “That’s the message that comes out of here from the president and from everyone in this administration.”

Rice said that “since President Obama came into office, we’ve amped up PEPFAR’s impact and built on America’s bipartisan legacy of fighting global AIDS.”

“We’ve worked smarter and increased our efficiency. We’ve invested in interventions that have the greatest impact, allowing us to reach more than 7.7 million people with life-saving treatments,” she said.

During Obama’s 2013 trip to Africa, the Washington Post noted that “some administration officials bristle at the comparison to Bush” on founding and funding PEPFAR, “and Obama hinted at the frustration during his conversation with reporters on Air Force One.”

Today the George W. Bush Institute posted a piece on the Huffington Post that combined two causes of the former first couple: fighting HIV and cervical cancer.