These approaches are complementary, and both are necessary. PEPFAR focuses on 15 countries and applies largely to bilateral HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care programs, in coordination with host governments' national strategies. The Global Fund reaches 130 countries around the world and provides one quarter of all donor HIV/AIDS spending, two-thirds of all donor TB spending, and half of all donor spending on malaria. As of December 2005, the Global Fund was providing voluntary counseling and testing to 3.9 million people; supporting community outreach efforts to 7 million people, and providing antiretroviral drugs for 384,000 people enrolled in programs reversing death sentences on a daily basis.
Additionally, the Fund has provided 7.7 million bed nets to prevent malaria and has treated 1 million cases of TB through Directly Observed Therapy.
Congress should fully fund the president's bilateral request, and it should not cut back on the support it has shown for the Global Fund. It will be a big lift, but this a crisis of global proportions.
I may disagree with some of my conservative friends regarding how much should be appropriated, but I do agree that Congress must be diligent spending taxpayer dollars in the most efficient way for the greatest good.
We agree that faith-based organizations should be included more fully and that an appropriate balance between abstinence, being faithful, and condom distribution be struck, just as it has been so effectively in the country of Uganda.
My support for the Fund is not unconditional. For example, I will insist on increased transparency from the Global Fund on information such as the percentage of dollars awarded to fund prevention, treatment and education-related activities. The Fund should prioritize increased accountability practices out of respect for the financial accounting needs of Congress, especially in our fiscally tight environment.
But I've learned along the way that few bills in Congress will ever quite meet the standard of 100 percent agreement. Sometimes less will do -- especially when "less" in the legislative process still means life and hope for so many people. If our own lives were at risk in the global AIDS pandemic, surely none of us would reject such a compromise. When the lives of others are in the balance, the scales tip in exactly the same direction.
So I will continue to lead the fight against AIDS and other infectious diseases. Some of my conservative friends may vote differently, and I respect that decision, knowing it was informed by conscience and good faith. From old and valued friends, I know they will extend the same courtesy in return.
Former Senator Rick Santorum is the author of Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works.
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