Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875 March 17, 2003

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For IMMEDIATE Release

Hyde, Lantos, Others Introduce Bipartisan Legislation
to Combat Worldwide HIV/AIDS Threat

(WASHINGTON) -- A bipartisan coalition of House members, including the chairman and ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, today introduced a comprehensive five-year response to the growing worldwide threat from HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

U.S. Reps. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL) and Tom Lantos (D-CA) were joined Monday by U.S. Reps. James A. Leach (R-IA), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Dave Weldon (R-FL) in introducing the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003.

To date, more than 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide, including more than 3 million last year. That is more than 8,000 persons per day – or nearly 6 deaths every minute – and the number is growing. Life expectancy in Africa has been cut in half by the pandemic, and by the year 2010, 80 million persons could be dead of AIDS, Hyde suggested.

"In some southern African countries, 30 percent or more of the adult population is infected with HIV," Hyde explained, adding that many economies of developing countries are being devastated, as trained personnel in key sectors die, including teachers, health care and law enforcement personnel.

"The world is on the verge of a modern-day plague that not only threatens the developing world, but the stability and health of the entire globe," Hyde said, adding, "the human suffering and devastation in Africa is only a prelude to what Asia and Latin America will soon face if the tide of the pandemic is not stemmed."

The Hyde/Lantos legislation authorizes $15 billion during fiscal years 2004-08 for what Hyde calls "responsive, coordinated and effective" initiatives which will: provide anti-retroviral therapy for people living with HIV; encourage a strategy that extends palliative care for people living with AIDS; support the research and development for vaccines for HIV/AIDS and malaria; emphasize the need to keep families together, with particular focus on the assistance needs of children and young people with HIV; contribute to multilateral initiatives that leverage the funds of others; and endorse wider application of the successful "ABC" approach that has reduced HIV prevalence in certain countries by stressing the importance of behavioral changes (including the promotion of abstinence, faithfulness and, when appropriate, the use of condoms) as the foundation of efforts to fight AIDS.

"Unchecked, AIDS threatens the very fabric of sub-Saharan Africa and developing societies and will lead to economic collapse, social unrest, and unparalleled human suffering. The economic, political, and social toll on the developing – and the developed – world could be unprecedented. A great deal more needs to be done and needs to be done now," Hyde said. "We should do all we can to surmount this challenge by reaching out now to those most in need. It is the right thing to do for our children, our country, and our world."

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