Philadelphia AIDS Activists ‘Optimistic’ That Congress Will Increase Funding to Fight HIV/AIDS Through Treatment, Prevention
The Philadelphia Inquirer today profiles Philadelphia AIDS activists who say they are "optimistic" that Congress will allocate more funding for international HIV/AIDS programs, as lawmakers begin to view the global AIDS epidemic in a different way. Paul Davis, director of domestic government relations for the Philadelphia-based Health GAP Coalition, said that recent visits by government officials to Africa and the view by many lawmakers that HIV/AIDS represents a security issue have helped fuel support for increased HIV/AIDS spending. Conservative politicians "don't embrace broad social programs, but when they see firsthand catastrophe, dying that is depopulating a continent, they have no choice but respond. They're moved to respond," Davis said (Harris, Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/28). The House on Friday passed a $29 billion supplemental appropriations bill (HR 4775) that included an additional $200 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved $100 million in additional funding for the global fund as part of its version of the FY 2002 supplemental appropriations bill (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/24). In an effort to increase that amount, Sens. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) last week sponsored an amendment to the Senate version of the bill that would allocate $500 million to purchase antiretroviral drugs to prevent vertical HIV transmission in developing nations, and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) sponsored a competing amendment that would allot an additional $700 million in funding for global HIV/AIDS programs. Greater funding for international HIV/AIDS programs has "gained a lot of steam in the capital," Specter said, adding, "It's something that is endorsed by all gradations of the political spectrum. It's become that serious a problem." Davis said he believes Specter is "one of the important new champions" in global HIV/AIDS spending, stating, "As a powerful Republican, Arlen Specter can force this through if he puts his shoulder behind it" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.