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Bush rolls out 5-year AIDS plan

From Elise Labotte
CNN Washington Bureau

Secretary Powell introduces the plan.
Secretary Powell introduces the plan.

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Mayo Clinic
AIDS (Disease)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration has rolled out a five-year, $15 billion government-wide strategy for combating the AIDS/HIV pandemic.

The "Emergency Plan for Aids Relief," is described by the administration as the largest commitment ever by a single nation towards combating the crisis.

Concentrating on prevention, treatment and care, highlights of the plan include:

• $9 billion in new resources in 14 of the world's most afflicted countries, with a 15th country to be added in the new few weeks.

• $5 billion to ongoing U.S. bilateral programs in more than 100 countries.

• An increase in the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to fight AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria by $1 billion over five years.

"When this administration took office the president committed to the American people and the people of the world that we would do everything we could about it," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said introducing the report.

"Much more has to be done and I think the United States is showing bold leadership for the rest of the world on what we have to do."

Through the funding, the U.S. is expected to provide treatment to 2 million HIV-infected people and prevent 7 million new HIV infections.

It will also provide care to 10 million people affected by HIV/AIDS, including orphans and vulnerable children.

The plan will bring together all programs and employees in the U.S. government with AIDS in the various U.S. agencies under the Global AIDS Coordinator.

Andrea Natsios, the administrator for U.S. Agency for International Development, said Monday the said the new plan would also integrate food aid in focus countries which have suffered food shortages due to the fact that a majority of their populations infected with the disease are too sick to farm crops.

The U.S. will primarily funnel the money through existing networks in order to move the money as fast as possible, such as local faith-based institutions and local religious groups, non-government organizations, missionary hospitals and health ministries, Natsios said.

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Randall Tobias said the first $350 million will go to health service providers in the 14 focus countries for programs that are providing anti-retroviral treatment, prevention programs, including those targeted to youth, and safe medical practices programs, and programs to provide care for orphans and vulnerable children.

"The programs of these specific recipients were chosen because these are organizations that have existing operations on the ground, they have a proven track record, and they have the capacity to rapidly scale up their operations so that we can begin having an immediate impact when these dollars are out the door," Tobias said.

Tobias said the U.S. bilateral programs will be different that those undertaken by the Global Fund for AIDS because of the government-wide integration of resources.

He said while the fund was an "important partner" in the war against HIV/AIDS, it was only two years old and just getting started.

The U.S. will also be examining the prescription drug market to ensure a continuous supply of safe drugs are available at low cost, in order to treat people over the long term, Tobias said.

Complacency in Eastern Europe, Central Asia

HIV is rampaging through Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
HIV is rampaging through Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The prevention aspect of the plan involves preaching abstinence, specific education programs about how HIV/AIDS is spread and promoting condom use.

The 14 focus countries are Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guyana, Haiti, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Meanwhile, HIV AIDS is spreading again in Western Europe and is rampaging through Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where it infected 250,000 people last year, a United Nations health official said Monday, The Associated Press reports. (Full story)

While Africa bears the brunt of the disease, Eastern Europe and Central Asia are experiencing the fastest-growing HIV epidemic in the world, Peter Piot, the executive director of the U.N. AIDS organization.

In 1998, 30,000 people in those two regions had HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but the number has since ballooned to 1.5 million, he said, according to the AP.

Piot spoke on the opening day of a two-day meeting of 55 nations in Dublin, Ireland seeking to rally financial and political support to combat HIV/AIDS in a region where, officials said, there is much complacency about the disease.

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