AIDS fight:

Congress and the White House are preparing to ramp up spending on programs to combat AIDS and related diseases around the world while removing some of the ideological blinders that have long undermined the effort to slow the spread of the AIDS virus. It will be a welcome strengthening of a foreign aid program that was already one of the shining accomplishments of the Bush administration.

In one farsighted move, money will be used to train some 144,000 new health care workers over the next five years to care for people infected with HIV. That is at best a start on easing the severe shortage of health care workers in the developing world, which some estimates peg in the millions. The most troublesome ideological constraint on the program — a requirement that one-third of the funds used for prevention be spent on abstinence education — has been greatly eased.

The bill calls for a balanced prevention program that would promote abstinence until marriage and fidelity thereafter, as well as condoms. Although some Republicans are grumbling over the proposed amount, it is important that Congress appropriate the full $50 billion. Even that sum would certainly not provide universal access to treatment for all people infected with HIV, a goal that the industrialized nations claim to be pursuing. — International Herald Tribune