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Bush pledges $500 million for AIDS

By John King

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Citing the "global devastation" of AIDS, President Bush Wednesday pledged $500 million in U.S. support over the next few years for worldwide efforts to combat the disease, and he urged an immediate focus on programs designed to prevent transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from mothers to children.

"Worldwide close to 2,000 babies are infected with HIV every day during pregnancy, birth or through breast feeding," Bush said as he announced the initiative in the Rose Garden. "Most of those infected will die before their fifth birthday. Those who are not infected will grow up as orphans when their parents die of AIDS. New advances in medical treatment give us the ability to save many of these young lives, and we must and we will."

In-Depth: AIDS: 20 years an epidemic 

He said AIDS has killed 20 million people globally and is "poised" to kill 40 million more. He highlighted the impact the disease has had on Africa, saying it "threatens to hold back the hopes" of the entire continent.

The U.S. financial support includes a previously stated pledge of $200 million in the current fiscal year and $500 million over "a few years," according to one administration official.

While the U.S. contribution would likely drop in the 2003 fiscal year because of budget constraints, the White House expects to boost funding the following year, the official said.




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