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President Bush Awards Harvard $107 Million in Africa AIDS Fight

President Bush Awards Harvard $107 Million in Africa AIDS Fight

At a State Department press conference last month, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Randall L. Tobias announced that the Harvard School of Public Health’s AIDS Treatment Care and Prevention Initiative in Africa will receive its first-year funding of $17 million of a five-year $107 million grant as part of President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
Multi-million dollar grants also were awarded to three other U.S.-based institutions, including Catholic Relief Services (a consortium which includes the University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology), the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The programs will focus on AIDS treatment and the prevention of the transmission of HIV from mother to child. 
The Harvard plan aims to roughly double the number of people currently being treated in sub-Saharan Africa in five years. Its goal is to put an additional 75,000 people on antiretroviral drugs in Nigeria, Tanzania and Botswana.
“The amount of money is huge, and it will allow us to scale up pretty fast,” Dr. Phyllis J. Kanki, a professor of immunology and infectious disease at the Harvard AIDS Institute and the School of Public Health, told The Boston Globe. Kanki directs the school’s program in Nigeria and will also run the new project.
Worldwide, more than 40 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS and each day 14,000 are added to their ranks. An estimated 8,000 people a day die from the disease.
President Bush unveiled a detailed five-year, $15 billion emergency plan aimed at turning the tide in the global fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The plan, which Bush first announced during his 2003 State of the Union address, describes itself as “the boldest international health initiative every undertaken by a single country.”
But critics said they were disappointed and described the plan’s funding process as marked by continuous delays. The plan targets $9 billion in new funding to speed up prevention, treatment and care services in 14 of the most affected countries representing at least 50 percent of HIV infections worldwide.
All but two of the countries — Haiti and Guyana — are in sub-Saharan Africa. One more country, outside Africa and the Caribbean, is to be named later.
The plan also devotes $5 billion over five years to bilateral programs in more than 100 countries and increases the U.S. pledge to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by $1 billion over five years.
Introducing the plan that was sent to Congress, Powell said it demonstrated “bold U.S. leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but much more needs to be done.”
With the release of first funds for the program — $350 million — Thompson said the U.S. government “will provide unprecedented resources” to combat HIV/AIDS. But he said the pandemic was “too big for any one country and others must get involved.”
Tobias, U.S. global AIDS coordinator, said the 99-page plan “reflects our current best thinking about what needs to be done and what we believe it is possible to do.”
The AIDS Health Care Foundation, the largest U.S.-based organization with clinics in the United States, Africa and Central America, said it was disappointed with the Bush administration’s announcement.
“In a funding process marked by continuous delays, these results are leaving many experts in the field of AIDS treatment wondering how decisions are made,” said Michael Weinstein, the head of the foundation in Los Angeles. 

— Associated Press

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