Bush Wants $30 Billion to Fight AIDS
President Says Money Is Needed to Help Treat AIDS Patients in Poor Nations
May 30, 2007 -- President Bush on Wednesday called for the U.S. to spend a
record $30 billion to fight AIDS overseas, a move he said would more than
double the number patients receiving drug treatment in poor countries.
The spending would expand the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a
$15 billion program started in 2003. The plan funds AIDS prevention and
treatment in 15 poor countries hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic, mostly in
The five-year plan runs out at the end of 2008, and Congress will have to
reauthorize the program if it is to continue beyond President Bush's term.
"Many HIV-positive Americans are able to lead productive lives.
The story has been quite different elsewhere, especially in sub-Saharan
Africa," the president said during brief remarks in the White House Rose
Officials estimate the plan has provided antiretroviral drug treatment to
1.1 million people in South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, and other countries.
The president said increased funding would expand treatment to 2.5 million
additional people and prevent HIV infection in an estimated 12 million
AIDS has killed an estimated 25 million people since 1981, mostly in Africa.
An additional 40 million people are infected with HIV, according to UNAIDS.
Two-thirds of the nearly 3 million people who died of AIDS worldwide in 2006
lived in sub-Saharan Africa, the organization reports.
Congress to Step In
The plan enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, which will ultimately decide
how heavily to fund it in coming years. It remains unclear what programs
Congress would cut to find an additional $15 billion, and the president on
Wednesday made no suggestions in that regard.
"We'll be working with Congress on that issue," says Ambassador Mark
Dybul, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator.
The White House also has not said whether it intends to use the additional
money to increase the number of countries covered under the emergency plan in
addition to expanding programs within the 15 countries covered now.
"That's actually been discussed at some length, and there are points of
view represented by both thoughts. But we will be expanding the number of
people that are served," Health and Human Services Secretary Michael
Leavitt tells WebMD.
The president urged Congress to move quickly on a bill reauthorizing the
program, though lawmakers won't decide on actual funding levels until next
year. Quick action would also allow Bush to leave a mark on the program before
leaving office, rather than leaving it to his successor to shape the
David Bryden a spokesman for the Global AIDS Alliance, an activist group,
questions the president's claim that the proposed expansion would actually
double U.S. AIDS funding. He points out that the White House requested $5.5
billion for the program next year in order to reach the $15 billion in total
funding by 2008.
It's a small increase, not a doubling of what would have happened
anyway," Bryden says. "A true doubling would be more in the realm of 50
Jean Pape, MD, head of the Haitian Association for the Study of Kaposi's
Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections, tells WebMD that U.S.-funded AIDS
prevention efforts require even more money in place by local health
"As you test more people, you'll find more people who are infected and
therefore need more treatment," he says.