Progress, with an eye to the future

Twenty years ago today, the global community held its first World AIDS Day. While we have come a long way in the fight against this deadly epidemic since the 1988 theme of âÄúawareness,âÄù our leaders dare not falter against AIDS. U.S. efforts have been met with mixed results. While HIV transmission rates among drug-users are on the decline, thanks to needle exchange and education, there has been an alarming increase in the spread of HIV among men who have sex with men. Chinese health officials are now worried about the threat of rising HIV prevalence among their 200 million migrant workers. Clearly, AIDS is far from an âÄúAfrican problemâÄù and the epidemic merits global solidarity. On Friday, a United Nations agency warned that HIV infections could surge if the global financial crisis spurs cuts in AIDS prevention initiatives. Our next administration and Congress are going to have to make some tough decisions when it comes to funding AIDS programs and there are myriad lessons to be learned from the approach we have taken fighting the epidemic over the past few years. President George W. Bush has been hailed especially among evangelicals for having âÄúraised the bar on AmericaâÄôs role and responsibilityâÄù in world AIDS prevention . But U.S. funding against AIDS has flatlined over the past few years and upwards of two-thirds of African assistance has been misallocated to âÄúabstinence-onlyâÄù prevention measures, which can actually make a dire situation worse. Our leaders must ensure that AIDS prevention funds are used on methods that work. That means honest education on the subject of sexually transmitted infection and increased spending on the miracle anti-retroviral drugs that can transform a death sentence into a chronic condition.