House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi marked World AIDS Day on Wednesday by calling on President Bush to fully fund the five-year, $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief that focuses on preventing and treating HIV in developing nations. PEPFAR is authorized to spend $3 billion each year, but so far has fallen short of that goal. Only $2.3 billion has been appropriated for 2005. "President Bush must provide the full $15 billion he promised for the fight against HIV/AIDS in his 2003 State of the Union Address," Pelosi said in a statement. "So far, his budgets have fallen far short. The president must also stop proposing budgets that provide little or no new funding for domestic HIV/AIDS care, treatment, and prevention."
Pelosi notes that in the United States about half of the almost 1 million HIV-positive people don't have a regular source of health care and that people of color are disproportionately impacted by the disease. Worldwide, nearly 40 million people are infected with HIV. "We know how to treat this devastating disease," Pelosi said. "Success stories can be found in every part of the world. When we invest more resources, more people have access to lifesaving drugs, more people learn how to protect themselves and their partners, more people have access to voluntary counseling and testing, and more pregnant women are offered services to prevent mother-to-child transmission."