May 30, 2007

Washington, DC - Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the co-author of 2003 legislation creating and funding the U.S. fight against global HIV/AIDS, released the following statement about President Bush's planned announcement today on renewing and enlarging the program:


“The call to double the budget for this vital effort is music to my ears, and I will do all I can to ensure harmonious support for it. I was proud to co-author the bipartisan U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003, and will be doubly so to lead the way toward its reauthorization with twice the original budget.

“While this program has accomplished much to mitigate the horrendous HIV/AIDS crisis worldwide, much more remains to be done. More than 40 million people suffer from HIV/AIDS, a number that has jumped by 2.6 million over the past three years despite all of our collective efforts. This scourge has already stolen nearly 30 million lives - more than any war in human history with the exception of World War II. We need to consider carefully what has worked well in the fight against the spread of the virus, and what has not.

“As the Foreign Affairs Committee moves to reauthorize this critical program, we will closely examine the requirement that at least 33 percent of total funding for prevention initiatives be used for abstinence-until-marriage education. The Institute of Medicine and the Government Accountability Office have reported that this requirement has been a hindrance to the effectiveness of prevention efforts across the board. Mandating the preaching of abstinence may not be the best use of one-third of the funds in this fight.”

At an April 24 Foreign Affairs Committee hearing to lay the groundwork for reauthorization, Lantos noted that the programs created by this legislation have supplied lifesaving antiretroviral therapy to more than 800,000 adults and children, provided invaluable testing and counseling for 19 million, supported essential services to prevent mother-to-child transmission to more than 6 million women, and served 4.5 million people with desperately-needed care and support.