Today, the twentieth anniversary of World AIDS Day, George W. Bush received the first “International Medal of P.E.A.C.E.” for his contribution to world peace via HIV/AIDS funding. Starting in 2003, Bush’s President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) gave $15 billion to international programs to fight HIV/AIDS, but the programs were widely panned for their focus on abstinence-before-marriage and be-faithful-to-one-partner education. The medal was awarded by Pastor Rick Warren’s new P.E.A.C.E. organization, which honors “ordinary people empowered by God.”
According to a 2006 year-long study by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the ideological bent of PEPFAR made the programs ineffective in countries with high HIV rates like Uganda and South Africa. South Africa’s HIV prevalence rate among adults has increased from 18.8% in 2005 to 25.5% today. And in Uganda, the infection rate nearly doubled between 2003, just after PEPFAR began implementing programs there, and 2005.
Until this year, PEPFAR recipients were required to spend a third of their prevention funds on abstinence education. In the most recent PEPFAR legislation from July 2008, these requirements are more lenient, but still require recipients to notify Congress if they plan to spend less than half its funding on sexual-transmission prevention on abstinence and faithfulness programs. Barack Obama’s website says that the President Elect plans to “dramatically increase funding for global HIV and AIDS programs through the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief,” and that he will use “the best practices—not ideology—to drive funding for HIV/AIDS programs.”