AIDS: Clinton Approves $400 Million To Fight AIDS
President Clinton Saturday signed a bipartisan bill pledging more than $400 million to combat AIDS and other infectious diseases in Africa and across the globe, the AP/Washington Times reports. The legislation, called the Global AIDS and Tuberculosis Relief Act of 2000, will authorize the U.S. Agency for International Development to spend $300 million for programs centered on education, voluntary testing and counseling, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and care for those living with HIV/AIDS. The bill also will earmark $50 million for the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunizations and $10 million for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative for HIV vaccine development, as well as $60 million to fight tuberculosis, the leading cause of death for those with AIDS. In addition, the legislation will create a World Bank AIDS Trust Fund to provide additional grants to those nations experiencing the worst of the AIDS crisis. In his weekly radio address, Clinton said: "Fighting AIDS worldwide is not just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing. In our tightly connected world, infectious disease anywhere is a threat to public health everywhere. AIDS threatens the economies of the poorest countries, the stability of friendly nations, the future of fragile democracies." Congress passed the bill last month allocating $150 million in U.S. contributions over the next two years. While the House's initial proposal included $500 million in U.S. contributions over five years, the Senate scaled back the measure. House bill sponsor Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) called the trust fund "an extraordinary effort to move with urgency to address the horrific AIDS epidemic." Sandra Thurman, White House director of AIDS policy, noted that some "are calling it the Marshall Plan for AIDS. We're looking at a pandemic the likes of which we have never seen" (8/20). Despite the generous funding appropriated by the bill, Clinton said that the United States "cannot and should not battle AIDS alone. This crisis will require the active engagement of all segments of all societies working together. ... Increasingly, we have come to realize that when it comes to AIDS, neither the crisis nor the opportunity to address it have borders. We have a great deal to learn from the experiences of other countries, and the suffering of citizens in our global village touches us all" (White House release, 8/19). The global AIDS death toll reached 2.8 million in 1999, currently killing 6,000 people each day in Africa and orphaning 15% of the children in the most severely afflicted cities. AIDS is expected to decrease the life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa to 45 years by 2015, and the United Nations has predicted that 50% of the teen- age population will be lost in some African nations (AP/Washington Times, 8/20). While the AIDS pandemic is most critical in Africa, the United States also will assist programs in Asia, Latin America and countries in the former Soviet Union (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 8/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.