Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass H.R. 1298, the U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003.  A bi-partisan bill, H.R. 1298 addresses the HIV/AIDS crisis in a truly systematic and comprehensive way, and increases the resources available to fight this growing threat.  Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) was pleased to see the bill that he had helped shepherd through the House International Relations Committee pass by such a large margin.

“That today’s vote on final passage was so one sided, 347-41, indicates the large support for tackling this critical issue.  Over 22 million people around the world have died of AIDS already, and some estimates say the world will see 100 million cases in just four years,” Smith said.  “We succeeded today in protecting the bill from attempts to cut funding – every dollar in this fight matters.  The global AIDS epidemic is an extremely destabilizing and dangerous problem that can only be solved with strong U.S. leadership, broad international support, and scientifically-proven methods of prevention and treatment.  ”

“My only disappointment with today’s vote comes from the inclusion of Rep. Joseph Pitts’ (R-Pa.) amendment which takes away the flexibility offered to local AIDS preventions efforts and instead pushes a one-size-fits-all agenda that emphasizes abstinence instead of other scientifically-proven forms of AIDS prevention,” continued Smith.  “A multi-pronged approach to HIV/AIDS prevention works, and I believe that we should not lock up one-third of prevention money for abstinence-only programs.  Both Democrats and Republicans on the International Relations Committee defeated this measure when it came before us in Committee and it’s disappointing to see it pass the House.”

In addition, the U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003 supports the care and treatment of infected individuals, funds vaccine research and development, and supports the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.  The bill establishes a comprehensive strategy to strengthen our capacity to respond effectively, and authorizes the resources necessary to dramatically expand our prevention and treatment efforts in the developing world.