U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson was elected chair of the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Jan. 31. The surprise announcement followed President George W. Bush's surprise pledge in his State of the Union address to ask Congress for $10 billion in new funding to fight AIDS overseas in the next five years, which is triple previous U.S. spending.
'The United States is committed to the fight against global AIDS and proud to partner with the Global Fund, with our allies, and with every man, woman and child on this planet as we seek to end this plague,' Thompson said.
Thompson was the target of aggressive protests at last summer's International AIDS Conference in Barcelona. Raucous demonstrators chanted, blew whistles and shouted, completely drowning out his speech to delegates.
The protesters accused the Bush administration of failing to give its fair share to the Global Fund; shortchanging the U.S. AIDS Drug Assistance Program; blocking needle-exchange programs; attacking science-based prevention programs; and overemphasizing the unrealistic promotion of abstinence.