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Charity does not begin at home

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Buzz Publications
February 25, 2007


I have a question, which is more like an issue, and this issue is one I didn't even know I had. Politically, a member of the Green Party, I consider myself a progressively correct member of the conservative left. Green ideology includes fighting injustice and helping the less fortunate, wherever the need.

As a journalist however, I find myself questioning the altruism of some high profile Samaritans, and capitalist based concerns of corporate America.

Sending me onto this soapbox is the television promotion selling the Sprint Motorola RED Razr cell phone. Touting that with the purchase of every RED Razr, $17 will be donated to help fight AIDS in Africa, the company failed to mention the phones retail at $299.

The RED campaign is a project of the Global Fund, the purpose of which is to attract, manage and disburse resources to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Created by Bono, of U2 fame, and Bobby Shriver of the Kennedy clan, the Global Fund is a financing mechanism that does not implement programs directly, but works closely with other multilateral and bilateral organizations involved in health and development issues.

Consumers can all buy a RED iPod nano, clothing and accessories from the Gap, Converse shoes, watches, sunglasses and apparel from Giorgio Armani and a RED American Express card.

At face value there seems little reason to find fault. In my eyes Bono can do no wrong, and Bobby Shriver is one of the good guys. My issue is with organizations, and the corporations that support them, actively excluding the United States of America from it's charitable work.

Going on line, it was easy to confirm no money raised by the Global Fund has been directed to AIDS organizations working to fight AIDS in North America, although Canada and the U.S. give significantly to the Global Fund.

Although Malaria is not a problem in the U.S., Tuberculosis and AIDS still are. With more than a million Americans living with HIV/AIDS, and more than 500,000 already lost to the immune disease, the number of new cases is on the increase, due a serious lack of AIDS education programs.

The very fact a rock star has to take the global lead on fighting AIDS, does not speak well to the U.S. Federal government and religious denominations. Unlike people in developing nations, those testing positive for HIV or fighting AIDS, have little help in covering the cost of expensive medications needed to maintain their health and remain vital members of society.

As as for social support structures, most with HIV/AIDS are forced to remain silent as prevent the stigma of AIDS from undermining employment, relationships, and future opportunities.

Ask any American AIDS organization and they will tell you the U.S federal government is not doing enough here at home to combat the disease, or spending the money required to fund scientific research that could eradicate the disease.

When one looks at the statistics of the number of young people exposing themselves to HIV through unsafe sex and intravenous drug use, the increase among woman of color, and the resurgence of the newly infected in the gay community, it becomes all to clear enough is not being done to educate Americans about an entirely avoidable disease.

Maybe it's time the Global Fund promoted AIDS education in America.

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