October 13, 2006
RICE SWEARS IN DYBUL
Ambassador Mark Dybul, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice administered the oath of office to Mark Dybul, M.D. two months after his confirmation as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, a post that has the rank of ambassador. According to the Washington Blade, Dybul placed his hand on a bible held by his domestic partner, Jason Claire. Dybul's parents and Claire's mother stood nearby as Dybul became the nation's third openly gay ambassador.
Beginning in March 2006, Dybul has served as the Assistant, Deputy, and Acting Global AIDS Coordinator, leading implementation of the embattled President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
A constant champion of PEPFAR, the First Lady Laura Bush attended the swearing-in. She said, "I've seen the results of his work as I've visited PEPFAR projects around the world - from a program in Russia that helps HIV-positive children lead healthy lives, to South Africa's Mothers to Mothers-to-Be program, which helps HIV-positive pregnant women deliver babies free of HIV."
PEPFAR allocates unprecedented levels of funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care, and programs for children and pregnant (or would be pregnant) women are important and make nice talking points. But the heart of the crisis is with populations the PEPFAR program ignores.
In Russia, as many as 940,000 people have become infected with HIV, and about 80% of those infected have a history of injection drug use. The U.S. government, however, does not fund needle exchange programs.
In South Africa, half the sex workers tested in 2000 were positive (down from 61% in 1998). Does PEPFAR support the harm reduction, peer education, and organizing approaches that have successfully decreased risk for sex workers while protecting and promoting human rights? No - PEPFAR requires an "anti-prostitution loyalty oath" that excludes these types of organizations from getting funding.
PEPFAR exports all that is wrong with domestic policy and foists it onto dying countries that cannot afford - in lives or in cash - to refuse.
As the Global AIDS Coordinator, Dybul has power to issue guidance that makes the best of PEPFAR as dictated by Congress. Ultimately, his testimonies at Congressional hearings and through reports have the potential to persuade legislators to fully fund the comprehensive plan we really need.
WELCOME AMBASSADOR DYBUL TO HIS OFFICIAL NEW POST
Now would be a nice time to send Ambassador Dybul a note, welcoming him to his official post and reminding him that the AIDS community worldwide is watching his work:
Email the Ambassador at SGAC_Public_Affairs@state.gov.
Or send him an old-fashioned letter at:
Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator
SA-29, 2nd floor
2201 C. Street NW
Washington, DC 20522-2920
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PEPFAR?
Visit these websites:
- Avert at www.avert.org
- HealthGAP at www.healthgap.org
- PEPFAR Watch at www.pepfarwatch.org
- SIECUS PEPFAR Country Profiles at www.siecus.org
- US Agency for International Development at www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/aids/pepfarfact.html