President Bush, speaking to reporters on Friday about his proposed $15 billion international AIDS initiative, also pledged to increase spending on U.S. AIDS efforts, including boosting funding for prevention and treatment programs. "It's important for our fellow citizens never to think that one initiative or a major initiative in Africa doesn't mean we're going to forget the 900,000 people living in America today who carry the [AIDS] virus," Bush said in announcing the increased spending proposals for fiscal 2004. "Of course we'll never do that. It's important for our citizens to understand that there's 40,000 new infections every year in this country. It's an issue. It's an issue we must continue to deal with."
Bush's proposed spending on domestic AIDS issues in fiscal 2004 includes a $16 billion--or 7%--increase over 2003 funding levels for prevention and care programs. He also said he will seek an increase of $93 million for AIDS-related research and pledged $100 million in new funding for the federally funded AIDS Drug Assistance Program. The state-run programs provide free or low-cost HIV antiretroviral medications to low-income HIV-positive people. State ADAPs are facing severe budget shortfalls, and 14 states have had to implement waiting lists, cap expenditures per program participant, limit the number of drugs being provided, or tighten financial eligibility requirements, the AIDS Treatment Data Network reports. Other states, including New York and Texas, are considering placing new restrictions on their programs in 2003.
Bush's announcement came after meeting on Friday with members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS and with White House Office of National AIDS Policy director Joe O'Neill.