by Deborah Caldwell
NBA legend and entrepreneur Magic Johnson raised some eyebrows recently when he praised President Obama’s handling of the AIDS epidemic. While attending an event for National Black AIDS/HIV Awareness Day at Howard University, Johnson showered Obama with praise, even going so far as to say that Obama had done more to fight AIDS than any other president.
“President Obama is doing a wonderful job, I think — better than any president on HIV and AIDS, bringing it to the forefront,” he said. “Also he backed it up with funding, as well.”
“He’s always been at the forefront,” Johnson continued. “I really have patted him on the back for that — for jumping out in front of issues that normally our president doesn’t jump out in front of.”
But George W. Bush’s work on AIDS is considered to be one of the few successes of his presidency.
Dr Francois Venter, then head of the HIV Clinicians Society in South Africa, told The Guardian in 2008 that he was surprised at the effort the Bush administration was making to thwart AIDS in Africa.
“I look at all the blood this man has on his hands in Iraq and I can’t quite believe myself but I would say it’s a bold experiment from the last people in the world I would expect to do it, and it is saving a lot of lives. To intervene on such a scale and make such a difference is huge,” he said.
President Obama has been criticized by some AIDS activists for promising much more than he delivered.
After Obama provided only $5.5 billion per year on the global AIDS effort, after promising $50 billion, many activists fired back.
“This latest action merely confirms what people with HIV/AIDS and their advocates have long suspected — the president simply is not committed to fighting global AIDS,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, in a statement.