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A little over a year ago, President Bush announced an ambitious plan to triple funding for AIDS prevention and treatment efforts, to $15 billion. On December 1, World AIDS Day, a coalition of religious leaders called on the administration to keep its promises and appropriate the money.

Anne Peterson is a former missionary doctor to Zimbabwe and Zaire who was appointed by the Bush administration as head of global health for the Agency for International Development (USAID). She spoke with Timothy C. Morgan, CT's deputy managing editor, about what she believes are the key ways to push the administration's AIDS policy forward.

What is the best way to spend money fighting the AIDS pandemic?

It's going to be a matter of keeping the balance. How do we begin to do treatment, deal with all of the difficult systems issues, make treatment available fairly—while still not losing the key prevention messages, as well as the orphan care and dying-patient care?

If we ever want to be able to address all of the treatment needs for people living with HIV and AIDS, then we have to work desperately hard on prevention. We have to make sure there are the fewest number of people getting HIV/AIDS so that we can manage to do that scope of treatment. So we need to do both, and we need to do them carefully and effectively and fully.

The promise that I can make is that whatever Congress chooses to appropriate, we will work very, very hard to make sure it is very well used.

The other bottom line is, whether it's AIDS or whether it's child health or tuberculosis, or infectious disease, or agriculture, the scope of the need out there is way more than the available resources. So there isn't a single area of international endeavor that couldn't use more ...

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February 2004

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