U.S. House of Representatives Expected to Give Strong Backing to Global AIDS Bill
May 1, 2003
Republicans have secured a prominent role for sexual abstinence in a $15 billion House bill to combat global AIDS. Today's House vote on the five-year package comes three months after President Bush outlined the initiative in his State of the Union Address. On Tuesday, Bush summoned lawmakers and activists to the White House to urge swift action, saying AIDS was "leaving graves and orphans across a continent."Adapted from:
Reps. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) wrote the bill to avoid crippling disputes over such issues as abstinence and condom use, but in the end, even Democrats had to accept a vote on two amendments pushed by conservative groups and backed by the White House. One, offered by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), would strengthen "conscience" language already in the bill to assure that religious groups are not denied funds because they object to certain aspects of prevention programs, such as the distribution of condoms. Another amendment, offered by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), states that one-third of the money targeted for prevention go to promoting abstinence.
Hyde, chair of the House International Relations Committee and a leading Republican conservative, helped craft the amendments so they would be acceptable to Democrats. Aides to Lantos, the top Democrat on Hyde's committee, said Democrats could live with the two provisions.
The legislation (H.R. 1298) recommends that 55 percent of bilateral aid go to treatment programs, 20 percent to prevention, 15 percent for palliative care and 10 percent for orphans. Prevention programs are modeled after the Ugandan "ABC" approach, which stresses abstinence, being faithful, and condom use when appropriate. The bill allows the president to contribute up to $1 billion in the first year to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Critics have argued the fund lacks accountability and transparency. Hyde said his bill increases monitoring of the fund and limits the US contribution to 33 percent of total donations. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Tuesday he hopes to see that chamber pass similar legislation by the end of May.
05.01.03; Jim Abrams
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.