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US Congress Approves AIDS Funding for Africa, Caribbean - 2003-05-21

Congress has approved legislation to dramatically increase U.S. spending to combat AIDS in African and Caribbean countries. Fifteen billion dollars will be spent over the next five years for AIDS treatment and prevention.

Final congressional approval sends the legislation to President Bush, who initially proposed the sharply increased AIDS spending earlier this year.

Strongly supported by Democrats and Republicans, the bill will direct funds for drug therapy and care to more than two million people living with AIDS in 14 African and Caribbean countries.

"The HIV/AIDS pandemic is more than a humanitarian crisis," said Congressman Henry Hyde who was the chief sponsor of the legislation. "Increasingly, it's a threat to the security of the developed world."

The legislation supports efforts to find vaccines for HIV/AIDS, and also assists efforts to fight malaria and tuberculosis.

Lawmakers expect the president to sign the legislation into law before he leaves for the G-8 summit in France.

And they want Mr. Bush to encourage other countries at the summit to increase their contributions to the global fight against AIDS.