The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a five-year, fifty billion dollar extension of the global AIDS program, potentially authorizing some twenty billion dollars more for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria funding to the thirty billion requested by President George W. Bush. This is an important step toward the program’s five year reauthorization. The U.S. Senate is also working on legislation.
The program, known as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, provides money to treat and care for people living with HIV/AIDS and to help support these individuals and their families. The program also supports a long list of activities aimed a preventing infection.
“In 2003," said President Bush, "I asked Congress to approve an emergency plan for AIDS relief. Our nation," he said, "pledged fifteen billion dollars over five years for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in many of the poorest nations on Earth. In the years since, thanks to the support of the United States Congress and the American people, our country has met that pledge.”
An estimated thirty three million people are infected with the HIV virus, and nearly seventy per cent of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ninety per cent of the two million children afflicted with the disease live in Africa. For many of them, the U.S. Global AIDS Program literally means the difference between life and death.
In 2003, only about fifty thousand people living with the HIV/AIDS virus in Sub-Saharan Africa were receiving anti retroviral treatment. By September 2007, nearly one and a half million men, women and children worldwide were receiving anti retroviral treatment. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief also helped provide training for health care workers, and provided support and care for over six and a half million people infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.
With the extra resources that the U.S. Congress is considering for the Global AIDS program, an estimated three million people living with the HIV virus would receive treatment and live longer, healthier lives.
"A tremendous possibility [is] within our grasp," said President Bush. "Seldom has history offered a greater opportunity to do so much for so many. . . .We can bring healing and hope to many more."