George W. Bush Slams Trump For Slashing AIDS Funding

"Societies mired in disease breed hopelessness and despair."

For all of George W. Bush’s many faults, we must praise the former president for at least one thing: The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program providing lifesaving funding for HIV prevention, treatment and care in Africa and the Caribbean.

Launched in 2003, it’s gotten antiviral meds to millions of patients, and helped more than a million babies be born HIV-negative to mothers who are positive.

But the Trump Administration’s new budget calls for $300 million in cuts to PEPFAR’s $1.1 billion budget, which would then be shunted into military spending and Homeland Security.

In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Bush advised against such deep cuts as we are “on the verge of an AIDS-free generation.” He also suggests there is some self-interest in supporting PEPFAR:

This lifesaving work also has a practical purpose for Americans. Societies mired in disease breed hopelessness and despair, leaving people ripe for recruitment by extremists. When we confront suffering — when we save lives — we breathe hope into devastated populations, strengthen and stabilize society, and make our country and the world safer.

He makes a good point. (God, we never thought we’d say that about G.W. Bush.)

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.