Thursday, August 17, 2006

AIDS Conference

Stephen Harper is taking criticism for not attending an international AIDS conference in Toronto this week. He said there will be no announcements on additional funding this week because the issue has been politicized. Which is correct. As a Conservative politican, it wouldn't matter whether he was there or not; he would still be criticized. And at a conference like that, it wouldn't matter how much new money he brought to the table; the press would still stick a microphone in front of the face of someone who didn't feel it was enough (or better yet from the press's point of view, give the microphone to someone who wants to score a few cheap political points by being critical).

All of which tells me Stephen Harper is a very smart man. He has long since learned an important lesson about risk vs. payoff. Why attend a conference where you will get lots of bad press (regardless of what you do) when you can avoid the conference and get a smaller amount of bad press. If there is no possible benefit, why attend? I hope Harper will work behind the scenes in funding more research, but let's face facts... the conference was a photo-op for the left.

What sort of funding would be most helpful? I would suggest some really innovative funding in basic research on virology. Answering the basic questions about viruses will help fight all viruses, including HIV. Perhaps funding 10 endowed chairs at Canadian universities in anti-viral research, and making some funds available to bio-tech start-ups with some innovative ideas for fighting viral infections.


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