As the Obama administration slowly unveils its global AIDS plan, the drive to put more people on drugs is being scaled back as emphasis is shifted to prevention and to diseases that cost less to fight, including pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and fatal birth complications.
AIDS advocates complained bitterly that they had been betrayed and that the Bush administration’s best legacy was being gutted — and they blame a doctor and budget adviser who is also the brother of the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.
“I’m holding my nose as I say this, but I miss George W. Bush,” said Gregg Gonsalves a long-time AIDS campaigner. “On AIDS, he really stepped up. He did a tremendous thing. Now, to have this happen under Obama is really depressing.”
But Dr. Eric Goosby, the new global AIDS coordinator and chief of Pepfar, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, denied that the administration’s dedication to fighting AIDS had shrunk, noting that more people would still be put on treatment each year. “We’re honoring our commitment, we’re increasing our commitment, we will not veer from that commitment,” Dr. Goosby said.
Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a bioethicist at the National Institutes of Health and an adviser to the Office of Management and Budget, rejected accusations by several AIDS advocates that he and Dr. Goosby had feuded over how many people should be treated, and denied that he had unusual influence.
“This is the president’s policy and the way he wants to approach it, and no individual counselor stands in his way,” he said. And, he joked, his brother rejects his advice “out of sibling rivalry.”
But it was clear from Pepfar’s newly released plans that treatment will soon rise more slowly than it has.
(continues here at the NYT)