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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 November, 2003, 10:54 GMT
Congress agrees Aids funding plan
President Bush
Congress approved higher Aids spending than Mr Bush requested
US Congress negotiators have agreed to provide $2.4bn to combat Aids in 2004.

The amount forms part of a plan by the Bush administration to spend $15bn over five years on fighting the disease and its effects in the worst-hit nations.

The 2004 allocation is more than the president had asked for, but less than the $3bn expected by Aids activists who fear the plan will suffer cuts.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell told the BBC that the US was committed to spending the full $15bn.

The five-year plan is aimed at preventing and treating Aids, as well as tuberculosis and other diseases that prey on its victims, in 14 African and Caribbean countries.

It was passed by Congress earlier this year, but funding for the schemes had to be approved separately.

The money agreed on Monday is more than the $2.1bn that President George W Bush had proposed for next year's budget.

However, the BBC's Michael Buchanan in Washington says most people had assumed the president would spend $3bn a year on the anti-Aids initiative.

Committed

The decision must be put to a full vote in both chambers of Congress, possibly later this week.

This is more than a health crisis, this is a national security crisis. This is a crisis in whether or not these countries can remain viable
US Secretary of State Colin Powell

On Monday, Colin Powell said in a BBC interview that the Bush administration was not backtracking on its commitment to spend $15bn on Aids over the next five years.

He said the US was making a greater contribution to fighting HIV/Aids than any other country.

And he defended plans to spend one-third of the money on programmes promoting sexual abstinence.

BUSH'S $15bn AIDS RELIEF PLAN
The money will provide drugs for two million people with the disease
It is also intended to prevent seven million new infections
Another 10 million people with HIV and Aids orphans should receive care
Countries affected are Botswana, Ethiopia, Guyana, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia

He said: "Abstinence works, we know it works. If you're not actually transmitting the disease through sexual conduct, the disease will not be transmitted."

However, Mr Powell stressed that sexual abstinence was being promoted as part of a comprehensive approach to HIV and Aids that also included education, promotion of safe sex and condoms, treatment programmes and research into a cure.

Mr Powell said the HIV/Aids epidemic was threatening the viability of some countries: "It leaves families totally torn apart, villages torn apart, and in due course, countries torn apart."




SEE ALSO:
UN Aids chief calls for openness
16 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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