President Bush Ahead of Congressional Black Caucus Meeting Tells Black Leaders That Fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa Still a Priority
President Bush on Tuesday in a meeting with more than 20 black religious and business leaders who supported his re-election promised to "focus" funding on fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa and increase trade to the continent, the Los Angeles Times reports (Wallsten/Simon, Los Angeles Times, 1/26). Bush administration and congressional sources last week said that Bush next month will propose $3.2 billion in funding for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief for fiscal year 2006. PEPFAR is a five-year, $15 billion program that directs funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to 15 focus countries, including Botswana, Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Haiti, Guyana and Vietnam. In November 2004, Congress approved a FY 2005 omnibus spending package that included $2.9 billion to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria -- $99 million more than Bush had requested and much of which would go to PEPFAR (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/24). Bush also promised that Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice would meet "soon" with black ministers to discuss African policy, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 1/26). "The president was very attentive and took some good notes," Rev. Chester Berryhill of the Rising Sun Baptist Church of Hernando, Miss., said after the hour-long meeting that covered various issues (SHNS/Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 1/26).
Rep. Lee Seeks Greater Commitment From Bush on HIV/AIDS
Bush on Wednesday is scheduled to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) will deliver a letter to the president acknowledging his work to "raise the profile" of the HIV/AIDS pandemic but adding that a "greater commitment" is needed, according to a Lee release. "While the United States is clearly the world leader in creating, supporting and implementing programs designed to combat HIV/AIDS, and although the U.S.'s share of global funding is significant, the unfortunate reality is that overall funding for HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention and research is far too small to adequately deal with the devastating impact of this deadly virus," Lee, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus Global AIDS Taskforce, said in the letter. She added, "In order to be successful in our fight against this deadly disease, the United States and the global community must adopt a comprehensive, multisectoral strategy that embraces prevention, care and treatment in the context of overall human development." Lee said that fighting AIDS "is not a Democratic or Republican issue," adding that she will "look forward" to working with both parties on battling the pandemic (Lee release, 1/25).