President Bush Proposes Flat Funding for Global AIDS Initiative

Lack of attention to TB could undermine progress on HIV/AIDS

Washington, DC (January 28, 2008) — In his final State of the Union address, President Bush missed an opportunity to secure his legacy on fighting HIV/AIDS, instead proposing flat funding for his signature global AIDS initiative. It is now up to Congress to step up and expand the U.S. response, and to address killers like tuberculosis and malaria.

The expansion of support and funding to fight HIV/AIDS around the world is among the most noteworthy achievements in the president’s two terms in office. However, while resources for HIV/AIDS have consistently increased over the past five years, President Bush’s plan would effectively flat-line efforts and dramatically scale back the growth of new funding proposed by congressional leaders and a number of presidential candidates. Instead of continuing the rate of funding increases of the past five years, the proposal holds funding at essentially the same level as the current fiscal year. The reauthorization of the AIDS, TB and malaria initiative passed in 2003 should authorize at least $59 billion over five years to combat all three of these diseases.

The president’s AIDS response also lacks a clear strategy for addressing tuberculosis. TB is the number one killer of people with AIDS, even though it can be very effectively treated even in those with HIV/AIDS. One-third of the 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide are infected with TB, and over half of all AIDS deaths in some parts of Africa are caused by TB. While there is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS, TB is curable in most cases with drugs that cost as little as $20 for a full 6 to 8 month course of treatment. Without proper treatment, 90 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS die within months of becoming sick with TB. An explosion of drug-resistant TB in southern Africa threatens to roll back much of the progress that has been made so far in fighting both diseases. Funding for AIDS and malaria has flourished as a result of laudable presidential support, but TB funding continues to languish.

“We can’t fight AIDS without fighting TB, and we won’t eliminate any disease if we don’t help build basic health care delivery systems,” said RESULTS Associate Executive Director Joanne Carter. “While President Bush’s efforts in global health have been commendable, we hope that he and the next administration will build on those efforts and act to fully fund the fight against the greatest infectious killers on the planet – including the urgent problem of TB. Our security and health depend on a bold and comprehensive response now that builds country capacity for the future.”

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