President Bush called on May 30 for Congress to spend $30 billion to fight AIDS across the globe over the next five years. His request almost doubles AIDS financing, and builds on his previous request for $15 billion over five years for prevention, treatment and care of AIDS patients in developing countries. That program, approved by Congress for more than $18 billion, will expire next year.
Bush, nearing the twilight of his presidential term, seeks to bolster his humanitarian credentials and develop a more compassionate image of America abroad to counter criticism of controversial policies and actions such as the war in Iraq.
The United Nations reports that nearly 40 million people worldwide are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS; and advocates say that by 2013 almost 12 million will urgently need medicine. The Bush plan proposes to provide drugs for 2.5 million.
First Lady Laura Bush will visit Africa to promote the initiative next month.