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Desmond Tutu Criticizes President Barack Obama's AIDS Strategy

AIDS Healthcare Foundation president Michael Weinstein isn't the only person slamming President Barack Obama's AIDS strategy, which L.A. Weekly reported last week. Now Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu has spoken out.

"I appreciate that tough financial times require the United States government to cut spending," Tutu wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed piece. "But scaling back America's financial commitments to AIDS programs could wipe away decades of progress in Africa."

Tutu, a former cleric who fought against apartheid in South Africa, wrote that he was "saddened by (Obama's) decision to spend less than he promised to treat AIDS patients in Africa" and praised former president George W. Bush's commitment to fighting AIDS.

"Yet President Obama added only $366 million to the program this year -- well below the $1 billion per year he promised to add when he was on the campaign trail," Tutu wrote. "(The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief's total budget now stands at $7 billion.) Most of the countries in Pepfar will see no increase in aid."

Tutu also wrote about a different AIDS prevention program called the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, stating that "President Obama's plan to decrease support is deeply distressing; American financing for the fund should be increasing."

Michael Weinstein, whose group is based in Los Angeles, made similar points at a press conference in Washington D.C. AIDS Healthcare Foundation has now embarked on a public relations campaign to put pressure on Obama to change his overall HIV/AIDS strategy.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation also sponsored an AIDS "die-in" at U.S. House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district office in San Francisco on Tuesday, which blogger Michael Petrelis writes about.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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