President Bush Urges US Congress to Boost Investment in Fighting HIV/AIDS

Alex Villarreal

President Bush is calling on the US Congress to double the nation's investment in the fight against HIV/AIDS. His pleas come on the eve of World AIDS Day, Saturday, December 1. VOA's Alex Villarreal reports from Washington.

In 2003, Mr. Bush launched the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a five-year, $15-billion plan to expand HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care around the world.

Marking World AIDS Day, President Bush said the program is a great start, but said much work remains.

He urged Congress to reauthorize the plan, this time, with a pledge of $30 billion.

"Now the time has come for the United States Congress to act again. I'm confident they will and I call on the Congress to show America's leadership by reauthorizing the emergency plan and doubling our commitment to this urgent cause," he said.

But not everyone is satisfied with the president's proposal. Soon after Mr. Bush made his remarks, hundreds of AIDS activists gathered in Washington to call on the U.S. government to invest even more.

Even Washington D.C. Delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton lent her voice to the protest.

"We need to talk directly to this president, we need to tell him the truth about getting serious about stopping the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic. Get serious, Mr. President!" she said.

The demonstration ended in about 40 arrests, after a group of protesters tied themselves together in front of the White House in an act of civil disobedience.

The Washington protest was one of several taking place across the United States. More events are scheduled around the world.

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