Bono will meet with President Bush to talk AIDS. The U2 frontman wants the U.S. to pay the full $3 billion initially approved for African AIDS relief

By Gary Susman
Updated September 16, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Bono: Toby Canham/Splash News/NewsCom

Tuesday could be a beautiful day for Bono, who is scheduled for a White House sit-down with President Bush, USA Today reports. The U2 frontman, in his capacity as spokesman for DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) plans to urge the president to fully fund the African AIDS relief initiative he announced during the State of the Union address earlier this year. In that January speech, Bush said the U.S. would spend $3 billion a year for five years to help prevent the spread of HIV in Africa and to care for millions who are already infected, but the White House has since authorized funding of only $2 billion for the first year.

Bono tells the paper that funding African AIDS relief is not only the humane thing to do, but it will also help in the war on terror by polishing America’s humanitarian image abroad, as the Marshall Plan did in Europe 50 years ago. Letting AIDS fester unchecked in Africa, where 30 million people are infected, will create ”10 more Afghanistans,” Bono said. Noting that Bush asked last week for additional peacekeeping funds in the Middle East, Bono said, ”They want $87 billion for two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan. How about $1billion extra for an entire continent? I don’t think that’s too much to ask this week. It all feeds into the same thing anyway, which is the way the world sees America.”

DATA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and other organizations are issuing statements today calling for the AIDS initiative to be fully funded. DATA is also airing radio ads, voiced by Ashley Judd, urging legislators to ”keep America’s promise to Africa.”