President Bush's (search) new budget will ask Congress to provide $3.2 billion to combat AIDS in Africa and other poor regions, senior administration officials said Thursday.

The request would represent the latest portion of Bush's 2003 pledge to provide $15 billion over the next five years to combat the disease overseas. His proposal for 2006 was described by officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The government was spending $1.6 billion to try preventing AIDS (search) abroad and for caring for its victims when Bush announced his initiative.

Since then, expenditures have grown steadily, with Congress providing about $2.8 billion this year.

Administration officials have said that gradual increases are a sensible way to build up a program. Critics have said the money has grown too slowly.

When he announced the initiative, Bush said his goal was to prevent 7 million new infections in the countries, provide drugs to 2 million HIV-positive Africans and care for 10 million AIDS sufferers and orphans.