US to triple global Aids funding

House passes bill allocating $48bn to fight Aids and related diseases over five years.

    Advocates say the plan boosts America's international reputation [EPA]

    The legislation approves spending of $5bn for malaria and $4bn for tuberculosis, the leading cause of death for people with Aids.

    Passage of the bill culminated in a rare instance of co-operation between the White House and the Democratic-controlled congress.

    Barbara Lee, a Democratic leader on the issue, said the vote was "born out of a willingness to work together and put the United States on the right side of history when it comes to this global pandemic".

    Security and moral implications

    The current Aids funding law has helped bring life-saving anti-retroviral drugs to about 1.7 million people and supported care for almost seven million.

    Some Republican conservatives questioned the sharp spending increase but others defended it saying the aid had important security and moral implications, and boosted the country's international reputation.

    Known as the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, the five-year plan won praise from Bush's harshest critics at home and abroad.

    The US provided one-fifth of the total Aids funding in 2007, according to a study by UNAids and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

    The new bill, like the current law, states that 10 per cent of money should be allocated for orphans and vulnerable children, and sets a goal of preventing 12 million new HIV infections.

    It also focuses attention on women and girls, including stressing the importance of preventing sexual violence.

    The pandemic has affected some 33 million people worldwide but even with advances in treating the disease, there remain about 7,000 new HIV infections every day around the world.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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