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Giving Bush 'solid credit' for work fighting AIDS

Let me finish tonight by recognizing World AIDS Day.Last year, more than 33 million people worldwide were living with HIV.That's up from 26 million a decade bef

Let me finish tonight by recognizing World AIDS Day.

Last year, more than 33 million people worldwide were living with HIV.

That's up from 26 million a decade before.

But according to a report in the Christian Science Monitor, UNAIDS and other AIDS organizations are making progress in their efforts to control and eventually eradicate HIV/AIDS.

World AIDS Day is a chance to take stock of how well these organizations are doing and where the world stands today.

According to the 2010 report from UNAIDS, the United Nations' HIV/AIDS program, the overall HIV infection rate has declined almost 20 percent in 10 years - from 3.1 million new cases in 1999 to 2.6 million in 2009.

While that's not news for joy, that decrease follows decades of "growth" - explosive growth! - in the number of HIV infections.

Much of that decline can be attributed to funding from donor nations - such as President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief known as PEPFAR.   Much of that program involves education and prevention efforts, such as teaching people about safe sex and making condoms more available.

I give President Bush solid credit for this.  Here's what he wrote in an article that appeared in today's Washington Post:

Early in my first term, it became clear that much of sub-Saharan Africa was on the verge of catastrophe...  The disease was prevalent among teachers, nurses, factor workers, farmers, civil servants - the very people who make a society run.

Drugs to treat the disease existed and were falling in price, but they could hardly be found in Africa.  Whole countries were living in the shadow of death."

The results?

Eight years ago there were roughly 50,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa on AIDS treatment.  Today, thanks to America, other donor nationals and the work of Africans themselves, nearly 4 million are. 

President Bush argues that this fighting AIDS in Africa demonstrates American character, that we are dedicated to the inherent and equal dignity of human lives.   As the former president puts it, we had a chance to do the right thing here and did.

Good for him. Good for us. Good for Africa.