Global health

US must keep its promise on AIDS programs

June 21, 2009
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THE HEALTHCARE workers at HIV clinics operated by our partners in East Africa would paint a far different picture than that offered in ''US faces global health aid dilemma'' (Page A8, June 14). Contrary to being ''covered'' with cash, as Oxfam America's president claims, they are turning away patients in need of treatment because of stagnating funding levels. With drug stocks dwindling, they run the very real risk of returning to the days when one member of a family received treatment as their spouses and children left clinics empty-handed and were left to die.

For those of us who have treated people dying of AIDS in the most dire circumstances, we know it is not ''glamorous'' work, as a state department official suggests. It is, however, incredibly important crucial to those in need of care and to entire nations devastated by years of death and never-ending funerals.

As our nation weighs how to best invest in the health of the world's most vulnerable people, we must remember that the United States has the resources and the responsibility to keep its promise to scaling up HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs while at the same time strengthening its commitment to other critical global health initiatives. The nation's leaders must commit to doing both.

Patricia Daoust
Health Action AIDS Campaign
Physicians for Human Rights

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