August 19, 2000
In July 1999, Vice President Gore and I launched the Administration's interagency "Leadership and Investment in Fighting an Epidemic" (LIFE) initiative to expand our funding for global HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment in the worst affected developing countries. With bipartisan support, the Congress appropriated the additional $100 million that we requested for FY 2000 to enhance these efforts. For FY 2001, my budget includes an additional $100 million for the LIFE initiative.
While the LIFE initiative greatly strengthens the foundation of a comprehensive response to the pandemic, the United States clearly understands that there is much more to be done. The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS has estimated that it will take $1.5 billion annually to establish an effective HIV prevention program in sub-Saharan Africa and an additional $1.5 billion annually to deliver basic care and treatment to people with AIDS in the region.
H.R. 3519 takes some of the additional steps to broaden the global effort to combat this worldwide epidemic. It provides enhanced bilateral authorities and authorizes funding for the Agency for International Development's HIV/AIDS programs; authorizes new funding for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative; and authorizes the creation of a World Bank AIDS Trust Fund that is intended to create a new, multilateral funding mechanism to support AIDS prevention and care programs in the most grievously affected countries.
The United States, however, cannot and should not battle AIDS alone. This crisis will require the active engagement of all segments of all societies working together. Every bilateral donor, every multilateral lending agency, the corporate community, the foundation community, the religious community, and every host government of a developing nation must do its part to provide the leadership and resources necessary to turn this tide. It can and must be done.
There is currently no vaccine or cure for HIV/AIDS, and we are at the beginning of a global pandemic, not the end. What we see in Africa today is just the tip of the iceberg. There must be a sense of urgency to work together with our partners in Africa and around the world, to learn from both our failures and our successes, and to share this experience with those countries that now stand on the brink of disaster. Millions of lives -- perhaps hundreds of millions -- hang in the balance. That is why this legislation is so important.
I wish to thank and congratulate our congressional partners who worked hard to make this bipartisan legislation a reality: Representatives Leach, Lee, LaFalce, Gejdenson, Gilman, Jackson-Lee, Maloney of New York, and Pelosi, and Senators Kerry, Frist, Biden, Boxer, Durbin, Feingold, Helms, Leahy, Moynihan, and Smith of Oregon.
While I strongly support this legislation, certain provisions seem to direct the Administration on how to proceed in negotiations related to the development of the World Bank AIDS Trust Fund. Because these provisions appear to require the Administration to take certain positions in the international arena, they raise constitutional concerns. As such, I will treat them as precatory.
The United States has been engaged in the fight against AIDS since the 1980s. 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. The pages of history reveal moments in time when the global community came together and collectively found "the higher angels of our nature." In a world living with AIDS, we must reach for one of those historic moments now -- it is the only way to avoid paying the price later.
-- William J. Clinton