AIDS promise not funded yet 

The good news is th

The good news is that last month, Congress passed and President Bush signed the U.S. Leadership Against Global AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003. The bill authorizes the spending of $15 billion over five years to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, treatable diseases that kill over 6 million people each year. The bad news is that the “leadership” touted in the bill’s title is long on rhetoric but, at this point, short on cash. Global AIDS activists have praised lawmakers, particularly Indiana’s own Sen. Richard Lugar, for pushing the legislation, but are careful to note that no actual money has been appropriated to meet the bill’s pledge. “It authorizes money, but it doesn’t appropriate a nickel,” says Nick Arena, an Indianapolis resident who is the grass-roots manager for RESULTS, a global anti-poverty organization. “There are 16,000 deaths a day from preventable diseases in areas of the world that are home for potential terrorists. What the fund really needs is money right now.” Lugar and others have promised to work to insure that the bill’s promise is met with full funding in the 2004 annual federal appropriations process. President Bush reportedly wanted this bill signed into law in time to present it at the G-8 summit this week in France. The pledge has received mixed reviews at the G-8 so far, with European Commission President Romano Prodi saying the promise was mostly “old money” or not yet approved. Activists are similarly cautious. “It is nice that President Bush is taking this authorizing bill to the G-8 summit,” Arena says. “But what he should be taking is a check.”

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