U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives yesterday passed landmark legislation to expand U.S. efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis around the world.  Included in the legislation were provisions proposed by Smith and Rep. Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.) to combat tuberculosis.  The bill passed by a vote of 303 - 115.

“The HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis pandemics have caused immense suffering around the globe, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.  These diseases form part of a continuing spiral of poverty and disease in developing countries that threaten prospects for economic growth and stability.  This expansion was the moral thing to do, and I hope we can continue to build on it,” Smith said.

Congress passed the original U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act on a bipartisan basis in May 2003, and appropriated $19.3 billion over the past five years for the program.  The measure, based on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has saved millions of lives worldwide.

The bipartisan measure passed yesterday authorizes nearly $50 billion over the next five years - $20 billion more than the President’s original request – to transition from an emergency response to long-term sustainability that can be maintained by host countries.  The bill also adds emphasis to tuberculosis and malaria prevention, including Smith’s language related to tuberculosis, the “Stop TB” bill.

Smith helped shape the bill’s tuberculosis provisions, which include:

  • Requiring patient referrals between HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis programs;
  • Enhanced testing and treatment in countries with high TB rates;
  • New strategies for attacking forms of drug-resistant TB;
  • Assistance for the World Health Organization Stop Tuberculosis Partnership to cut TB deaths and infections in half by 2016; and
  • $4 billion in funding for programs to combat TB for fiscal years 2009-2013.

The President is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days.