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The Nation

Anti-AIDS Funds Sought

March 25, 2002|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Two Senate Republicans pledged to seek $500 million more in federal money to fight AIDS overseas.

Sens. Jesse Helms of North Carolina and Bill Frist of Tennessee said Sunday that they want to add the money to the Bush administration's spending request to pay for the war on terrorism.

The increase would be earmarked to make treatment available for every HIV-positive pregnant woman, said Helms, ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"There is no reason why we cannot eliminate . . . mother-to-child transmission of AIDS--just as polio was . . . 40 years ago," Helms said in a Sunday editorial in the Washington Post.

Helms was especially concerned about the AIDS epidemic in Africa, citing estimates that more than 2 million pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa have HIV.

Nearly one-third of those women will pass the virus to their babies, he said.

The senators pushed a similar proposal two years ago that called for $600 million for AIDS prevention and treatment, and the care of AIDS orphans in developing countries.

In the past, Helms has clashed with gay activists over statements he made blaming the spread of the disease on homosexuals.

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