Calling it "a day to renew our commitment to use our God-given talents to save lives," the American president, speaking from Tanzania on World AIDS Day 2011, spoke of the unmistakable success of PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief). This time, the speaker was actually former president George W. Bush, and he should know--PEPFAR was the result of his commitment to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Perhaps no president in history, not even Richard M. Nixon, had as much hate and vitriol directed at him as did Bush 43. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid--a Mormon no less--called the president a "loser" and a "liar." Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, another darling of the left, called Bush "the devil" and, for that, earned himself the friendship of Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Naomi Campbell (that beacon of egalitarianism, who used the opportunity to call Chavez a "rebel angel.").
Perhaps it's no surprise that the left has never given Bush one iota of credit for his commitment to eradicating HIV/AIDS, especially for the poorest amongst us. But, at best, their ignorance of the success of Bush's efforts is ahistorical. At its worst, it's nefarious. Why? Because by failing to rally around the work of a conservative president based on ideology, they refuse to bring greater attention to the pandemic and a successful program aimed at eradicating it. Rather than working to building even more support for PEPFAR, they ignore it.
Consider this: when President Bush committed an unprecedented $15 billion over five years to PEPFAR in 2003, only 50,000 people were receiving antiretroviral treatment in the developing world. By 2008, 1.2 million people were getting the ART. Spurred by this success, Bush asked for an additional $5.4 billion for 2008 alone. And because he took up this bold initiative, PEPFAR has been expanded threefold. But will he receive any credit for this from liberals in the United States? Not a chance. Instead, he will continue to be portrayed as ignorant and aloof, without a care for the poor and, as the irresponsible Kanye West said, someone who "hates black people." Perhaps West and his fellow shallow thinkers should consider that Bush's program has reduced deaths from AIDS in Africa by at least 10%.
Now President Bush has expanded his efforts on behalf of those fighting this still far-too-deadly disease. In honor of World AIDS Day 2011, he announced that the Bush Institute is partnering with PEPFAR, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, UNAIDS and others for Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, an initiative that builds upon their successes, leveraging the PEPFAR platform to combat cervical cancer. The alliance was formed with the goal of reducing it by 25% among women who are screened in Africa. As President Bush pointed out, women with HIV are more likely to get cervical cancer. "It is not right to save a woman from HIV, only to let her die from cervical cancer," he said.
Again, no one in Hollywood will applaud this initiative. Instead, the former president will quietly go about the work of improving and saving lives in the poorest countries in the world. Fortunately, that's thanks enough for him.
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