NAACP-Supported Global AIDS Bill Passes U.S. House and Senate; Moves to White House for Signature

Bill Would Provide $48 Billion for International Fight Against AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis Over The Next 5 Years in Africa, the Caribbean and Throughout the World

The Issue:
On July 25, 2008, Congress sent H.R. 5501, the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008 to the President for his signature.  President Bush has indicated he supports the legislation and intends to sign it in the next few weeks.

This important legislation reauthorizes and expands America’s commitment to helping some of the world’s poorest Nations deal with the AIDS pandemic and eliminates at least two earlier policies to which the NAACP had objected.  First, H.R. 5501 authorizes $48 billion over the next five years to fight AIDS and other diseases overseas.  This is a significant, and much-needed, increase from the $15 billion over five years that was authorized in 2003.  In addition to the increase in funding the legislation also shifts the United States’ Global AIDS program away from its original “emergency” purpose and more towards a long-term, sustainable plan.  H.R. 5501 authorizes the training of 140,000 new health care workers, targets vulnerable populations such as women, children, girls and orphans and adds secondary services such as nutrition.

Secondly, H.R. 5501 overturns an existing law requiring that one-third of prevention money be spent on abstinence programs.  Rather, the bill requires a report to Congress if less than half of the prevention money spent in any given country is expended on abstinence and fidelity programs.  Finally, the ban on HIV-positive visitors from entering the United States is lifted by H.R. 5501.

The goal now is to ensure that the money authorized under H.R. 5501 is actually appropriated and spent.  Congress provided $6 billion in fiscal year 2008 for the program, and such a large increase as is called for in H.R. 5501 may be difficult to attain in these tough fiscal times.  The NAACP is committed, however, to ensure that Congress and the President fulfill their promise to the world.

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