Resource Logo
BBC News

AIDS Bill Needs Full Support, Not Empty Rhetoric; Measure is a 'Hollow Promise' Unless Appropriators Act




 

WASHINGTON, April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the Global AIDS Alliance called on President Bush and members of the US House of Representatives to fully support HR 1298, an AIDS spending authorization bill expected to come to a vote in the House this Thursday.

As an authorization bill, the legislation by itself provides no US funding to fight the AIDS epidemic, even if signed into law. It serves as a recommendation to the House Appropriation Committee, which actually appropriates funding. The spending level in the bill moves toward a realistic level of spending, given the scale of the crisis. Yet, the level is much higher than what has already been specified, at the President's request, by the Budget Committee for fiscal year 2004. Actual provision of the funds would require full backing from House leaders as well as powerful persuasion from President Bush.

"We cannot afford to play games with AIDS funding," stated Dr. Paul Zeitz, Executive Director of the Global AIDS Alliance. "We are delighted the President has stated his support for this bold, bipartisan legislation. But, the bill far exceeds the amount he requested in his own budget proposal for fiscal year 2004, including for the cash-strapped Global Fund. Is the President truly committed to seeing this money actually spent or will this measure be an empty promise?"

"Similar bills have been ignored in the past, even when approved by the full House," warned Dr. Zeitz. "We call on the President and House leadership to make sure this bill is not yet another empty promise. The real test of the President's commitment will be whether he works hard to persuade the members of the Appropriations Committees to turn these funding levels into a reality."

The bill would allocate $3 billion a year for five years for international HIV/AIDS programs, with up to $1 billion in fiscal year 2004 going to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The President's budget proposal for FY 2004 provides $1.6 billion for on the ground AIDS programs, including just $200 million for the Global Fund.

"AIDS is a true global emergency, so Congress and the White House have to start treating it like one. Here is Lusaka we see no evidence of the US' so- called Emergency Response, even though effective programs are clearly starved for funds. In addition to real increases for 2004, emergency funds are needed now so that the Global Fund can continue funding effective AIDS programs in Africa, Asia, and other heavily affected regions."

Several members of Congress are planning to offer amendments to the bill, including adding provisions that would prioritize funding for monogamy and abstinence programs and allowing faith-based groups to "opt out" of some prevention programs.

"The fight against AIDS requires the kind of realistic and balanced approach already shown by this bill. We oppose these amendments and support an approach that takes fully into account the impact of this crisis on women and girls."

SOURCE Global AIDS Alliance

Web Site: http://www.globalaidsalliance.org

CONTACT: David Gartner, +1-202-550-9673, or David Bryden in Lusaka, +011-260-97768061, or dbryden@globalaidsalliance.org, both of Global AIDS Alliance



 


Copyright © 2003 -BBC News, Publisher. All rights reserved to BBC Reproduction of this article (other than one copy for personal reference) must be clered through the BBC.

Information in this article was accurate in April 29, 2003. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.