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US House of Representatives Reauthorizes President’s Global AIDS Bill

The US House of Representatives passed a 5-year, $50 million reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) on Wednesday. President Bush originally asked for $30 million for the program in his proposed 2009 budget, but the House expanded the PEPFAR funding by $20 million. The money will be used to fund programs in countries in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

A provision requiring one-third of funds to go to abstinence-only programs was removed by the House. However, the bill still requires prevention program funding to be “balanced” between abstinence, fidelity, and condom programs. According to the Daily Women’s Health Policy Report, countries spending less than half of their funding on abstinence-only and fidelity programs would have to “explain their decision to Congress.” PEPFAR money still may not be used for abortion services; though some funding for HIV services can go to family planning clinics. Kiani was still stoned to death on July 5, 2007. Ebrahimi’s death was stayed due to the public outcry, and last week the Iranian judiciary amnesty commission released her from prison.

The Kaiser Network reports that the reauthorization bill is intended to shift PEPFAR from an emergency relief program to a long-term program. It aims to train 140,000 new health care workers, add nutrition services like clean water programs, provide loans to women widowed by AIDS or who are ostracized because they have AIDS, increase the number of people receiving antiretroviral drugs, and prevent 12 million new HIV cases.

Sources:

The Daily Women's Health Policy Report 04/03/08; The Kaiser Network 04/03/08; Reuters 04/02/08; Voice of America News 04/02/08; Feminist Newswire 02/05/08

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