Bush Calls for Record Increase in NIH Funding; Agency to Focus FY 2003 AIDS Research on Microbicides, Prevention and Women
President Bush's proposed fiscal year 2003 budget will contain a record $3.7 billion increase in funding for NIH, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced on Friday. The Washington Post reports that if approved by Congress, Bush's funding request of $27.3 billion -- up 16% from the NIH's current budget of $23.6 billion -- would complete a five-year program to double the agency's budget that began in 1998 (Weiss, Washington Post, 1/26). Meanwhile, the NIH's Office of AIDS Research has released its "Fiscal Year 2003 Plan for HIV-Related Research," which outlines the NIH's research goals for the coming year. According to OAR Acting Director Jack Whitescarver, the plan includes three new "areas of emphasis" for research: microbicide development, HIV prevention research and research related to females and HIV. In a foreword to the research plan, Whitescarver wrote that while microbicides "may offer one of the most promising preventive interventions that could be safe, effective, inexpensive, readily available and widely accepted ... many scientific challenges remain" in their development and testing. Whitescarver also noted that the prevalence of HIV among women -- who currently make up 30% of new U.S. infections -- is rising and said that a better understanding of "special biological, social and cultural issues" related to that population is needed. With respect to prevention, Whitescarver said, "[T]here is a broadly recognized need and urgency to expand the range of preventive interventions for HIV transmission" ("National Institutes of Health Fiscal Year 2003 Plan for HIV-Related Research," September 2001) The complete plan is available online.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.