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U.S. Senator Jesse Helms Leads Bid to Boost US Contribution to AIDS Fight

March 25, 2002

Key senators, including longtime foreign aid foe Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), are planning to introduce legislation after the Senate returns April 8 that would add $500 million to the US contribution to fight AIDS in Africa and other parts of the developing world. AIDS advocates had been hoping for additional US funds to battle the disease but, until recently, thought it unlikely that more money could be found given large budget increases for the war in Afghanistan and the costs of homeland security.

The legislation, sponsored by Helms and Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), would be a $500 million amendment to the Bush administration's pending budget for additional money for Afghan war-related concerns and homeland security. That new money would be in addition to $1 billion proposed to battle AIDS worldwide in the administration's 2003 budget request. Most of the funds go to bilateral programs run by the Agency for International Development, the CDC and the global AIDS fund. If the new funding passes, the total would approximately double US expenditures last year.

The new initiative would focus on combating mother-to-child transmission of HIV by providing adequate supplies of proven therapies to Africa and other parts of the developing world. The amendment, which would require matching contributions from the private sector, has not been written, and it was still unclear Saturday how the proposal would fare in the House or with the Bush administration.

A Senate supporter said Helms's strong endorsement could ensure an overwhelming vote in the Senate, giving the momentum to carry it through the House and gain White House approval. Harvard economics professor Jeffrey Sachs, chairperson of the WHO macroeconomics and health commission, hailed the proposal as "a recognition by the United States that we are dealing with a full- blown emergency." Given the available medicines to counter such mother-to-child transmissions, "Helms put his finger on it: what is lacking is money," said Sachs.

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Adapted from:
Washington Post
03.24.02; Al Kamen


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
See Also
More News on U.S. Financial Aid for HIV in the Developing World


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