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December 2, 2008


President-Elect Barack Obama has pledged to change and expand domestic and international HIV/AIDS programs.

In a video address to the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health, Obama said, "We must also recommit ourselves to addressing the AIDS crisis here in the United States, with a strong national strategy of education, prevention, and treatment, focusing on those communities at greatest risk. This strategy must be based on the best available science, and built on the foundation of a strong health care system."

Promising to rely on "the best available science" is already a welcome departure from the politically blinded policies of the Bush disaster that withdrew funding from organizations that did not teach abstinence-only education.

During the entire eight years of the Bush fiasco, there was never a specific and/or coherent domestic, national approach for combating HIV/AIDS in this country. In contrast, Obama's plan would implement national strategies to decrease the rate of HIV transmission, establish a universal health care system, begin a more aggressive targeting of minority communities, begin comprehensive, age-appropriate sexual education and fully support the Ryan White CARE Act..

On an international scale, Obama also pledged to provide at least $50 billion by 2013 to fight AIDS around the world which could at least double the number of people who are treated for the virus. In addition, he promised to push for distribution of less-expensive generic drugs and invest in other nations' infrastructure problems that have increased the rate of transmissions such as poor water conditions and debt reduction.

I have to say that, so far, Obama is clearly trying to live up to the promises he made in his campaign. His picks for cabinet and other top-level positions certainly demonstrates his pledge to fill the government with the most qualified people available regardless of party affiliations or ideological differences.

The stark contrasts between the political approaches and levels of intelligence of Obama and Bush is a more than welcome change. Now I'm hoping that the democrat-controlled congress and senate will be able to find a way of working together instead of repeating the disastrous bickering and inertia during the first four years of Clinton's presidency when they also had control the presidency, congress and senate. They would do well to remember that the ineptitude shown by that congress led to the embarrassing hand-over of power to the Republicans in 1996 - just four short years after acquiring it.

Let's keep our fingers crossed and our eyes open. We all have a stake in and responsibility for what happens next.