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Desmond Tutu urges US Senate to pass AIDS spending bill

[JURIST] South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu [Nobel Prize profile] said [backgrounder] Wednesday that the US Senate should quickly pass a proposed bill [S 2731 text, PDF] designed to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria because it would save lives and encourage other governments to increase their anti-AIDS efforts. The bill would directly support other countries' anti-AIDS efforts and is designed to:

provide a framework to work with international actors and partner countries toward universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care programs, recognizing that prevention is of particular importance in terms of sequencing.
The House of Representatives passed a similar bill [HR 5501 text, PDF; Health GAP bill comparison, PDF] in April, but US Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and several others blocked the Senate bill [press release; Africa Science report]. Coburn said the the Senate bill must focus more on care and treatment for those who already have AIDS and less on prevention efforts, but bill supporters have said that the current proposed bill would be more effective because it allows for countries to individually tailor their anti-AIDS efforts. Tutu urged the Senate to pass the bill and send it to President George W. Bush to sign before the G-8 Summit [official website] next month so that other governments might also increase their international AIDS efforts. Reuters has more. The Tulsa World has additional coverage.

Both of the bills are part of this year's planned reauthorization of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) [official website], an initiative announced in 2003 that pledged $15 billion over five years for combating AIDS. Congress signed the Plan into law [PL 108–25 text, PDF] later that year after determining that "[d]uring the last 20 years, HIV/AIDS has assumed pandemic proportions, spreading from the most severely affected regions, sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, to all corners of the world, and leaving an unprecedented path of death and devastation." Each proposed bill would provide $50 billion over five years for AIDS health services and prevention, as well as $4 billion for anti-tuberculosis programs and $5 billion for anti-malaria projects.

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