IN OTHER WORDS: Worthy cause

His expected less-than-warm welcome at the Group of 8 meeting was clearly on President Bush’s mind this week when he announced an expanded plan to combat AIDS in foreign lands. Even so, that should not obscure the real good that can be done — both in preventing and treating AIDS and in spurring a wider global fight against HIV, the virus that causes it. The battle against AIDS has been one of the few shining spots in the Bush administration’s otherwise dismal foreign policy. Bush in 2003 launched a five-year, $15-billion AIDS programme to support treatment, prevention and care in developing countries. With congressional add-ons, the total through 2008 will actually exceed $18 billion, by far the largest amount committed by any nation. The programme has already provided treatment for some 1.1 million people in 15 countries and prevented millions of new infections, by administration estimates.

This is a welcome commitment, but nowhere near what’s needed to curb the widening epidemic. An estimated 40 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, the vast majority in the developing world.

Most of the millions already sick have no access to treatment. Leaders of the Group of 8 nations ought to follow Bush’s lead and raise their own contributions to this vital campaign.