House HIV Caucus Co-Chairs Propose Spending $50 Billion on Global AIDS, Other Diseases

September 19, 2011 - 4:11 PM
Rep. Barbara Lee (D.-Calif.)

Rep. Barbara Lee (D.-Calif.) meets with Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana in April 2009. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The two Democratic co-chairs of the newly formed bipartisan Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus say they are dedicated to promoting legislation that would provide $50 billion over the next five years for the global fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

They also want to increase U.S. spending on the domestic Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative to $610 million--a $180 million increase.

On her Web site, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the founding co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, which launched last week, said that she is “dedicated to creating and supporting legislation that ... authorizes $50 billion over 5 years to fight the global AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria pandemics.”

The other Democratic co-chairman of the caucus, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), would support Lee’s proposed funding increases, according to his office.

“We’re working with her (Rep. Lee’s) office very closely as co-chairs, and the legislation that she supports is definitely the legislation [McDermott] supports,” McDermott’s communications director, Kinsey Kiriakos told CNSNews.com.

According to the AIDS.gov federal Web site, from 2001 to 2007, the U.S. contributed $2.7 billion ($2,689,646,158) to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria--or $384 million yearly.

The federal government has committed to pay $9.5 billion ($9,556,872,254) by 2013 to the Global Fund – a public-private partnership – to pay for AIDS drugs and treatment for AIDS victims worldwide.

The Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) is “a federal initiative created in response to growing concern about the impact of HIV/AIDS on racial and ethnic minorities in the United States,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services..

The MAI began in FY 1997 with $156 million in funding and increased to $398.7 million by FY 2005. The initiative received $428.5 million in funding in FY 2011 – a 2 percent increase over FY 2010 levels.

In 2010, Lee and McDermott unsuccessfully led efforts to expand minority HIV/AIDS funding to the $610 million level.

The bipartisan caucus was launched Thursday morning at a press conference with its co-chairs, as well as heads of organizations active in the fight against the disease such as World Vision and AIDS United.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, homosexual men – men who have sex with men -- account for half (53 percent) of the 56,000 new HIV infections each year.

Another 31 percent are heterosexual – largely women who have sex with men who have sex with men. Sixteen percent are intravenous drug abusers – with 4 percent MSM drug abusers.

There are an estimated 1 million people with AIDS living in the U.S. – and 17,000 die each year – fewer than the number of people who die in automobile accidents each year.

In the president’s FY 2012 budget request, total U.S. government-wide HIV/AIDS spending is $28.3 billion and U.S. government-wide domestic HIV/AIDS spending totaled $21.4 billion.

The national debt is now more than $14.6 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.  The Department of Labor reports that the national unemployment rate is now at 9.1 percent and as high as 12 percent in the state of California.