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Bono Lauds DeWine HIV Bill

The Cincinnati Post
Sen. Mike DeWine has a fan. A rock 'n' roll fan.

Bono, lead singer of the band U2, had a few good things to say about the Cedarville Republican after the Senate accepted DeWine's amendment to spend an additional $289 million over the next year to fight AIDS in Africa and other countries around the globe.

"Sen. DeWine is the bodyguard of the world's poor today and deserves real praise," the singer said in a statement after the vote late Thursday night.

The unassuming Ohio senator and the flamboyant Irish rock star would seem to be the unlikeliest of comrades. But they have met several times, brought together by their common desire to fight global AIDS.

DeWine has seen the disease's deadly devastation during trips to Africa and Haiti and has evolved into one of the most outspoken supporters of increased AIDS funding in Congress.

Bono has used his celebrity the past few years to bring attention to the AIDS epidemic in Africa. He was the co-founder of DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade -- Africa), an advocacy organization that focuses on problems that keep Africans poor.

Under DeWine's amendment, global spending on AIDS and HIV will jump to $2.4 billion in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The Bush administration had proposed spending $2 billion, bringing criticism from groups who said the White House was not living up to its commitment to provide adequate AIDS funding. The House agreed to spend $2.1 billion on AIDS last July.

The money will also be used for the treatment and prevention of tuberculosis and malaria.

Bono said the extra money is critical, "not just to save millions of lives in Africa, but to keep the momentum going" in the global fight against AIDS.

DeWine described the epidemic as "an emergency in the truest sense of the word."

"In my recent trip to Africa and on my many visits to Haiti, I have seen pain, death and orphaned children left in the wake of this epidemic," he said. "We aren't going to win the battle overnight. This fight will demand the time, resources, support and prayers of the American people and people around the world for decades.

"And the money our amendment provides will not completely solve the problem. It will not make AIDS go away. But it can and it will begin to make a difference."

© The Cincinnati Post, 2003.