Clinton signs bill for global AIDS trust fund
By Deb Riechmann The Associated Press August 19, 2000 1:42 p.m. CDT
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) -- President Clinton signed a bill Saturday that sets up a global trust fund to provide funds for AIDS prevention, health care and education to countries hardest hit by the disease, which killed 2.8 million people last year.
"Today alone, African families will hold nearly 6,000 funerals for loved ones who died of AIDS," Clinton said in his weekly radio address, delivered less than a week before he was to visit Nigeria and Tanzania.
"Fighting AIDS worldwide is not just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing. In our tightly connected world, infectious disease anywhere is a threat to public health everywhere," Clinton said.
In addition to creating a World Bank AIDS Trust Fund, the bill authorizes funds for the administration's fiscal 2001 initiatives to fight HIV and AIDS worldwide and strengthens the U.S. response to the health emergency.
It includes $300 million for the U.S. Agency for International Development for education, voluntary testing and counseling, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and care for those living with HIV or AIDS.
"Already HIV-AIDS is the leading cause of death in Africa and increasingly threatens Asia and the states of the former Soviet Union," Clinton said. "In the hardest-hit countries, AIDS is leaving students without teachers, patients without doctors, and children without parents."
The legislation also authorizes $50 million in new funds for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization; $10 million for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative; and $60 million to fight tuberculosis -- the single largest killer of adults worldwide and the leading cause of death of those with AIDS.
The bill authorizes U.S. contributions of $150 million a year for two years. The money is intended as a springboard to bring in up to $1 billion a year from international donors. The House had pushed for a $500 million U.S. contribution over five years, but the Senate scaled it back.
The trust fund "represents an extraordinary effort to move with urgency to address the horrific AIDS epidemic," said Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, House sponsor of the bill. "It is our hope and expectation that the annual contribution from the U.S. will leverage enough contributions from other donors to increase several fold the size of the trust fund."
The fund, administered by the U.S. representative to the World Bank board of trustees, will gather public and private funding to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa which has 10 percent of the world's population but 70 percent of the world's AIDS cases.
"Some are calling it the Marshall Plan for AIDS," said Sandra Thurman, director of the AIDS policy office at the White House, referring to the massive plan for the economic recovery of Europe after World War II. "We're looking at a pandemic the likes of which we have never seen."
AIDS kills 6,000 people a day in Africa and has orphaned some 15 percent of children in the worst-affected cities.
The United Nations has predicted the disease will wipe out half the teen-age population in some poor African countries. By some estimates, the disease will lower life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa from 59 years in the early 1990s to 45 by 2015.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press