Even as America faces an economic slowdown and rising energy costs at home, it remains committed to helping others abroad. More evidence of this was seen recently as U.S. lawmakers voted to greatly expand the nation's campaign to combat the global spread of HIV/AIDS.
Since 2003, the U.S. has provided foreign governments, charitable groups and medical clinics with money and technical support to fight the virus, which now affects about thirty three million people worldwide. Some $15 billion has been spent in the effort, known as PEPFAR, with much of it going to buy antiretroviral drugs and support day-to-day medical care for more than one million seven hundred thousand people whose survival depends on continued treatment.
Special targets for this aid have been patients in Haiti and Guyana in the Americas, Vietnam in Asia and Ethiopia, Botswana, Nigeria and other nations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Under the plan approved by Congress, it will grow to $40 billion over the next five years, with increases also in programs to fight malaria and tuberculosis. These sums will ensure that the U.S. remains the largest single donor in the global battle against AIDS and is committed to that fight for years to come.
"PEPFAR is the largest international health initiative dedicated to fighting a single disease in history," said President George Bush. "And it is a testament to the extraordinary compassion and generosity of the American people."