Rep. Barbara Lee Calls For $1 Billion in Emergency Funding for Global HIV/AIDS Fund
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a "vocal advocate" for international HIV/AIDS funding, on Thursday began circulating a letter asking her congressional colleagues to call on President Bush to approve an additional $1 billion in emergency funding for the U.N. Global AIDS and Health Fund, Reuters Health reports (Zwillich, Reuters Health, 10/12). The letter, signed by Lee and four other members of the House, including Connie Morella (R-Md.), James Leach (R-Iowa), John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), acknowledges that although the world's attention and federal budgetary planning is "appropriately focused on combatting international terrorism," the government cannot "ignore" HIV/AIDS, a "public health crisis" that "clearly warrants an emergency designation." The United States has already pledged $200 million to the fund, which is estimated to need between $7 billion and $10 billion a year to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the developing world. However, only $1.7 billion has been received from international donors so far and an "emergency appropriation of $1 billion for FY02 is essential so that additional investments from both public and private sources can be leveraged," the letter states. The letter asks members of Congress to send by Friday an attached "bipartisan" letter to Bush supporting the funding allocation (Lee letter, 10/11). The letter to Bush states that the U.S. Agency for International Development should have control over the funds until the U.N. fund is operational. It also states that the funds should go toward supporting a "wide range of interventions" such as education, prevention and the "procurement of HIV/AIDS/TB-related drugs and commodities" (Letter to Bush, 10/17). U.S. officials have been resistant to the notion of using money from the global fund to provide treatment, arguing that the money would be better spent on prevention efforts (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/20)This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.