Wednesday, July 02, 2008

President Bush urges Congress to pass AIDS funding

This just in from Reuters via our friends at the Global AIDS Alliance.....

WASHINGTON, July 2 (Reuters) - President George W. Bush urged Congress on Wednesday to approve funds to fight AIDS in Africa and other countries, and said the issue was high on his agenda for a Group of Eight summit in Japan next week.

Members of the U.S. Senate sought last week to pass legislation to more than triple funds to fight AIDS, but some Republicans vowed to block it because of its cost.

The House of Representatives has approved its version of the measure which proposes $50 billion in U.S. funds over five years to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

"It's very important that Congress reauthorize this plan," Bush said to reporters ahead of the trip to the July 7-9 G8 summit.

Bush, who has been praised for leading efforts on funding for fighting AIDS in the developing world, said he would press G8 countries as well.

"One of my really important agenda items is going to ... rally our partners to make commitments and meet commitments," Bush said.

"We'll also discuss additional steps to confront some other challenges, such as the need to train health care workers in G8 partners countries in Africa," Bush said.

Bush's President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief or PEPFAR is supplying HIV drugs to 1.73 million people worldwide, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

The program, which also includes Vietnam and Haiti, is considered one of Bush's foreign policy successes.

More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since it was first recognized more than a quarter century ago. About 33 million people are infected with HIV, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa where it is spread primarily through heterosexual sex.

(Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Maggie Fox and David Wiessler)

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