November 22, 2002

US Senate Passes Global AIDS Funding Bill

As scientists and activists from around the world wrapped up an international AIDS conference in Barcelona, the US Senate on Friday approved a bill that allocates US$4.5 billion over two years to treat and prevent AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria at home and abroad.

The bipartisan legislation would create a US plan for a multi-pronged global fight against AIDS. It must be reconciled with a one-year US$1.3 billion bill approved by the House last December.

"With AIDS already claiming more than 20 million victims, we must develop a coordinated response that provides greater investment in prevention, treatment and vaccine development as well as financial support," said Tennessee Republican Bill Frist, one of the lead sponsors along with Massachusetts Democrats John Kerry and Edward Kennedy.

House and Senate lawmakers this year both added US$200 million toward a new global AIDS fund to a roughly US$30 billion emergency counterterrorism spending bill. At the Barcelona conference this week, protesters demanding greater US assistance interrupted a speech by US Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

The AIDS legislation requires the government to develop a long-term plan to significantly reduce the spread of AIDS around the world, authorizes new spending for treatment, vaccines and education and steps up efforts to protect women and children from the disease. It also authorizes funds for tuberculosis, malaria and vaccine programs.

It would also create a new program for US health care professionals to travel overseas to treat patients and provide training to medical personnel in Africa and other AIDS-afflicted areas.

"This legislation recognizes that governments can make the difference in fighting this epidemic and that we must carry the fight against AIDS to every corner of the globe, because this disease knows no boundaries," Kennedy said.

Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, urged the House to match the higher funding level called for in the Senate bill, and for Congress to appropriate the money in budget bills it will pass later.

"Unless we work in a bipartisan fashion to see that money is appropriated, this bill offers little more than false hope," Daschle said.

(China Daily July 13, 2002)

In This Series
Rich World's AIDS Advances Leave Poor Trailing

International AIDS Conference Opens in Barcelona

UN: AIDS Epidemic Surges, 70 Million may Die

Sino-US Cooperation on Fighting AIDS

Bush to Pledge US$500 Million for Global AIDS Fight



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