AIDS activists began to see the warning signs even before President Obama had fully settled into his new role in 2009. Just one day after the inauguration, the White House asked Ambassador Mark Dybul, head of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), to resign. The Obama administration had reportedly asked Dybul to spend several months overseeing the handoff for PEPFAR, one of President Bush's signature accomplishments. But that plan changed once President Obama actually took office.
Michael Gerson, a former Bush adviser and Washington Post columnist who championed PEPFAR, characterized the dispute as "Weasels vs. AIDS Relief." He worried for the 2 million people who had received lifesaving AIDS therapy thanks to the U.S. taxpayers' generosity. Christianity Today deputy managing editor Timothy C. Morgan, who has written extensively on the global AIDS crisis, saw trouble ahead.
"Even today, one evangelical leader expressed to me her fear that PEPFAR itself is going to be radically reshaped under the Obama administration," Morgan wrote on January 28, 2009. "That probably means so long to faith-based abstinence and fidelity educational programs in Africa and elsewhere. These efforts were at the heart of the Uganda success story in which HIV/AIDS rates and deaths were dramatically reduced. Countless families were held together as a result. This move sure feels like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory."
Every year, 2 million people die with AIDS. But the disease continues to spread because 3 million contract it annually. About 200,000 people in Uganda, a predominantly Christian nation, are being treated by drugs for AIDS. That number has increased from 10,000 only ten years ago thanks in large measure to ...