Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Pushes to Increase U.S. Funding to Fight HIV/AIDS Internationally
The House this week will consider legislation to boost the United States' support for fighting HIV/AIDS internationally to $700 million in fiscal year 2003, up from $300 million this year, Knight Ridder/Contra Costa Times reports. President Bush has proposed spending $200 million in fiscal 2003 for global HIV/AIDS programs, but a "broad coalition of lawmakers" from both parties -- as well as Secretary of State Colin Powell and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson -- favors spending more. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is a "catastrophe worse than terrorism," Powell recently told members of a Senate foreign aid appropriations subcommittee, adding, "It's not once every now and again you have an incident. This is every day." Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) have proposed the bill to boost foreign HIV/AIDS spending to a total of $700 million, some of which would go to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and to USAID HIV/AIDS prevention programs. The senators are trying to attach the measure to a $27 billion emergency spending bill for the military and homeland security that the House Appropriations Committee will take up this week. Bush and House Republicans are opposed to attaching the HIV/AIDS funding to the supplemental bill, but proponents of greater spending believe that "this is their best shot at getting a big boost this year, because Bush is unlikely to veto the broad [military] spending bill even if he dislikes the AIDS funds it contains," Knight Ridder/Times reports. The proposal is unrelated to another bill recently proposed by Sens. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) that would allocate $500 million specifically to fight vertical HIV transmission abroad. Frist, who has visited Africa six times since 1996 to treat indigent patients and to study the continent's HIV/AIDS problem, said, "It's a plague of biblical proportions, and it's growing every day" (Koszczuk, Knight Ridder/Contra Costa Times, 5/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.