House-Senate conferees agreed to provide $400 million more for the global AIDS initiative for FY 2004 than the Bush administration requested. The total approved to fight global HIV/AIDS was $2.4 billion. The administration request of $2 billion, which was $1 billion less than Bush originally proposed in his $15 billion five-year plan, prompted outcry from AIDS activists and lawmakers asserting that Bush was shortchanging an effort to stem the spread of AIDS, reports the Associated Press.
Conferees also agreed to include an addition $1.65 billion for the global AIDS plan in the foreign operations bill most likely later this week, reports Kaiser Daily News.
According to the BBC, Secretary of State Colin Powell, defended the administration’s plans to spend one-third of the money promised to combat AIDS on programs promoting sexual abstinence. Powell said, “Abstinence works, we know it works. If you’re not actually transmitting the disease through sexual conduct, the disease will not be transmitted,” reports the BBC.