The Senate last week voted 89-1 to increase funding for international AIDS relief. This makes $2.4 billion available for the fight against HIV/AIDS. The Senate’s bill is nearly $300 million more than the Bush administration request and will be available next year, particularly in Africa and the Caribbean.
While Bush stated that he would commit $3 billion a year for five years, the President only committed $2 billion to various AIDS programs – $1 billion less than what he initially promised and far less than what is needed to fight AIDS. The World Health Organization and UNAIDS have estimated that the need to fight the AIDS epidemic is at least $10.5 billion by 2005. According to Inter Press Services, more than 25 percent of the adult population in southern African countries are infected with HIV.
The House of Representatives rejected a call for an increase in funding in July and settled on $2.1 billion dollars, the amount Bush had requested in his budget. According to Inter Press Services, the executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance stated, “Congress is rejecting the president’s claim that we cannot spend more to fight global AIDS…it is beginning to respond to the appeals of health experts, religious groups, and concerned citizens who want to see a true emergency plan to stop AIDS.”