House Votes to Spend $50 Billion Over Next Five Years to Fight AIDS, Other Global Illness

The House voted Wednesday to triple to more than $10 billion a year U.S. humanitarian spending on fighting AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa and other stricken areas of the world.

About $41 billion of the $50 billion over five years would be devoted to AIDS, significantly expanding a program credited with saving more than 1 million lives in Africa alone in the largest U.S. investment ever against a single disease.

Every day another 6,000 people are infected with the HIV virus, said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, D-Calif. "We have a moral imperative to act and to act decisively," he said.

The House voted 308-116 to extend and broaden the scope of the $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief that President Bush promoted and Congress enacted in 2003. It has been hailed as a noteworthy foreign policy success of the Bush presidency.

The White House, which backs the House bill, said the program is supporting anti-retroviral treatment for about 1.45 million people and is on track to meet its goals of backing treatment for 2 million, preventing 7 million new infections and providing care for 10 million, including orphans and vulnerable children.

In 2007, 33 million people worldwide were living with HIV and AIDS, according to the United Nations.