President Bush’s $15 billion global AIDS initiative was approved by both chambers of the US Congress without language that would impose the global gag rule on the AIDS funding. After extensive debate, the bill includes language that allows funding to go to organizations that keep their family planning services entirely separate from their HIV/AIDS programs, including accounting.
The measure, expected to be signed into law by Bush before the end of next week, gives the federal government the authority to triple spending on AIDS treatment and prevention in 12 African countries, Haiti and Guyana over the next five years. However, the bill does not provide money to pay for the initiative – the House and Senate now must appropriate the funds. The bill does contain a controversial provision that requires one-third of the prevention money go to programs that exclusively promote sexual abstinence until marriage. Some have also said that the bill provides too little money for the Global AIDS Fund, according to the New York Times.
President Bush plans to use the initiative to press US allies to spend more on AIDS treatment and prevention when he travels to the G-8 summit in France next week.