Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of the Union '06 - On HIV/AIDS ...

A hopeful society acts boldly to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS, which can be prevented, and treated, and defeated. More than a million Americans live with HIV, and half of all AIDS cases occur among African Americans. I ask Congress to reform and reauthorize the Ryan White Act, and provide new funding to states, so we end the waiting lists for AIDS medicine in America. We will also lead a nationwide effort, working closely with African-American churches and faith-based groups, to deliver rapid HIV tests to millions, end the stigma of AIDS, and come closer to the day when there are no new infections in America.

This was good that the President, within the small window of time he allots himself for these types of affairs, devoted a moment to acknowledging the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS in the African American community. It also met one of our requirements for this State of the Union as outlined in our recent editorial: health disparities. But, his reference to the Black church (as this primary public policy conduit to the Black electorate) shows that this is a President relying on the Black religious community to direct Administration views on issues impacting the African American community. On some levels that may seem promising; on others, it could also be troubling in the sense that Black issues are limited through the prism of Black religiosity and the evangelism of a vocal few with multi-million dollar mega churches.

As for HIV/AIDS funding, he proposes "new funding" - but, does that necessarily mean a funding increase? Or, is it simply reallocating funding into different streams?