Sen. Coleman Returns From Africa Trip ‘Passionate’ About Pushing Funding for Global AIDS Initiative
Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) yesterday said that his recent trip to Africa as a member of a congressional delegation has made him "passionate" about pushing for funding for President Bush's global AIDS initiative, the AP/Kansas City Star reports. "I left hopeful, in spite of the enormous tragedy, in spite of 8,000 people dying a day in Africa," he said. The six-member congressional delegation, which also included Sens. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and John Warner (R-Va.), traveled to South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia to meet with government and public health officials, physicians and HIV-positive people and their families (Frommer, AP/Kansas City Star, 8/28). While on the trip, Frist expressed support for a $2 billion appropriation that a Senate committee recently approved to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa in fiscal year 2004 as part of the five-year, $15 billion international AIDS initiative. However, some AIDS advocates and congressional Democrats have said that the amount is $1 billion short of the amount needed. The measure (HR 1298) supporting the initiative, which was signed into law by President Bush in May, authorizes $3 billion for the first year of the program. The Bush administration has requested $2 billion of the $3 billion authorized for the first year of the program, and the House has approved a total of $2 billion for the AIDS initiative in FY 2004 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/27). Coleman, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and whose sister and brother-in-law died of AIDS-related causes, said that he is "committed" to securing funding for the AIDS initiative, according to the AP/Star. "We need a medical corps to go to Africa to get a hold of this pandemic," Coleman said (AP/Kansas City Star, 8/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.