Bush Urges Additional AIDS Money

President Bush urged Congress on Friday to approve an additional $30 billion for the global fight against AIDS over the next five years, and he announced he would visit Africa early next year to further highlight the need and his administration's efforts.

BY Matthew Van Atta

December 01 2007 12:00 AM ET

President Bush
urged Congress on Friday to approve an additional $30
billion for the global fight against AIDS over the next five
years, and he announced he would visit Africa early
next year to further highlight the need and his
administration's efforts.

''We dedicate
ourselves to a great purpose; we will turn the tide against
HIV/AIDS once and for all,'' Bush said. ''I look forward to
seeing the results of America's generosity.''

Bush chose the
gymnasium at Calvary United Methodist Church in tiny Mount
Airy, Md., to make his remarks. The church supports a
Christian group home and school in Namibia for
children orphaned by the disease. Before speaking, he
met with representatives from churches and other
religious groups that have been fighting AIDS in
order to highlight his belief that faith-based
organizations are the best vehicles for such work.

Evangelical
Christians, who make up a large and influential portion of
Bush's political support, have been key to his policies
increasing U.S. involvement in the fight against AIDS,
particularly in Africa. Bush has been said to believe
that the United States and his administration do not
get enough credit for the work being done on the issue.

''Every year
American taxpayers send billions of their hard-earned
dollars overseas to save the lives of people they have never
met,'' he said.

But ''in return
for this extraordinary generosity, Americans expect
results,'' the president said, adding that his program
demands measurable progress, accountability and the
involvement of local partners. The result: The number
of people in sub-Saharan Africa receiving treatment
for AIDS has gone from 50,000 five years ago to nearly 1.4
million now, he said.

''We have
pioneered a new model for public health,'' Bush said. ''So
far, the results have been striking.''

In May, the last
time he devoted a speech to the topic, Bush asked
Congress to double the $15 billion that the U.S. committed
over the program's first five years to therapy,
testing, and counseling through the President's
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The program is active in
120 countries, with a concentrated focus on 15, including
Namibia, in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the
Caribbean.

As of the end of
September, 1.36 million people in those focus countries
had received antiretroviral treatment through the program,
with a focus on averting infant infections by treating
pregnant women. Others receive testing and counseling.

''Some call this
remarkable success. I call it a good start,'' Bush said.

Doubling the
funding for PEPFAR would provide treatment for 2.5 million
people, the White House said.

In honor of
Saturday's World AIDS Day, the White House hung a red ribbon
28 feet tall and 8 feet wide in the North Portico of the
mansion to symbolize the fight against AIDS. It will
stay up for two days, and on Saturday guests who visit
the White House will receive a red ribbon sticker and
a fact card.

The White House
also said Friday that the Department of Homeland Security
will publish a final rule this winter aiming to help reduce
discrimination against those living with the virus that
causes AIDS. The new rule would establish a
categorical waiver for HIV-positive people seeking to
enter the United States on short-term visas. A 1993 law
prohibits HIV-positive people from receiving visas to visit
the United States without a waiver. A categorical
waiver will enable HIV-positive people to enter the
United States for short visits through a streamlined
process. (AP)

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