News / 

Thompson Urges Nations To Match U.S. Commitment To Fight AIDS

Save Story

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

WASHINGTON -- Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said Tuesday that the United States has stepped up pressure on other countries to follow the nation's example and boost funding for global AIDS programs.

AIDS advocates, however, say the United States should do even more, criticism Thompson brushed aside.

''We are active players, we are going to continue to be active players, and we want other members of the world community also to shoulder the burden,'' Thompson told reporters on the eve of his first board meeting as chairman of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

He said the European Commission has finally made good on last year's pledge to supply the fund with 60 million euros (roughly $70.5 million) and has agreed to add another 375 million euros (roughly $440.8 million) over the next five years. ''Hopefully, they will increase it again,'' he said.

More than two decades into the AIDS epidemic, the disease is still spreading. Roughly 40 million people are infected with HIV worldwide, and 14,000 people becoming infected each day.

Although AIDS advocates praise President Bush's five-year, $15 billion AIDS initiative, they note that Bush asked Congress to supply just $1.7 billion of the $3 billion he had pledged next year for government-sponsored AIDS in his State of the Union address.

Most of the $1.7 billion will be used to treat up to 3 million people with anti-HIV drugs, 10 million with other types of drugs and prevent 7 million new infections.

The United States also will contribute $350 million of the total to the United Nations' Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked the United States to supply $3.5 billion a year to the fund, which was set up three years ago by the United Nations and the G8 group of industrialized nations.

Congress has authorized up to $1 billion for the fund, but only on condition that the total amount not exceed one-third of the total given by other countries. ''We're above that,'' Thompson said, noting that the United States has contributed nearly half of the amount now in the fund.

But AIDS advocates say the money falls far short of an estimated $5 billion the fund will need next year to begin to make a difference.

''We're letting millions of people die and millions of children be orphaned for lack of funding,'' says Jeffrey Sachs, a leading Columbia University economist and AIDS expert. ''The global fund is facing a desperate shortage of money.''

''Pledges by a number of countries have not been funded,'' says Nils D'Daulaire, president of the Global Health Council. ''A pledge doesn't have a lot of value unless there's money to back it.''

Thompson says that fund's board of directors will take up the shortage when they meet Thursday. He also plans to invite corporate executives to accompany him to Africa as part of his fundraising drive. ''If I can get people to Africa, visit these orphanages and get them to pick up and hold some of these orphans, that's the best way to tell the story.''

Thompson also said Tuesday that he probably would not stay on as health secretary if Bush is re-elected and will pursue opportunities in the private sector.

To see more of, or to subscribe, go to

© Copyright 2003 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

Most recent News stories


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast