Coburn Blasts AIDS Conference

Posted August 5, 2008 at 4:03pm

The man who once blasted the AIDS bill when it was on the Senate floor is now criticizing an international conference on the same subject.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a stickler for every penny that the federal government spends, is criticizing the cost of the AIDS conference in Mexico sponsored by the International AIDS Society. Coburn, a physician, scoffed at the estimated $470,000 price tag to send 116 federal employees, arguing that the money should be focused on treatment instead of a meeting.

“This is a simple question of priorities when it comes to addressing HIV/AIDS — talk or treatment? Conference or care? … No one will die from not being able to attend a conference, but the same is not true for those who are living with HIV/AIDS and cannot access treatment,” he said.

As ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, Coburn cited the nearly half a million cost of sending at least 116 federal employees and concluded that was roughly the amount that it would take to provide treatment for people with the infectious disease in the federal assistance program.