Obama Pledges Major Expansion of AIDS and Global Poverty Programs

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 General News
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DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct. 30 Barack Obama todaystepped ahead of all other candidates for President in one of the mostcritical areas of foreign policy, the effort to eradicate extreme poverty. Asa part of reasserting America's leadership in this area, he pledged toincrease spending on global HIV/AIDS to $50 billion over 2009 to 2013, whileat the same time increasing overall foreign assistance spending to $50 billionannually.

"So far, only Senator Obama has presented a specific plan that would notonly increase AIDS spending but also provide the overall increase needed forthe US anti-poverty effort to succeed," said Dr. Paul Zeitz, ExecutiveDirector of the Global AIDS Alliance Fund. "This overall increase isnecessary to ensure critically needed development programs other than those onHIV/AIDS are fully funded."

"The call for the US to dedicate just one percent of its budget tofighting global poverty makes good sense," said Zeitz. "Senator Obama hasshown he understands why reaching this goal is both a moral imperative and inthe interest of the United States. We are also glad to see that he haspromised to explore the idea of establishing an independent, cabinet-levelagency, which would help ensure foreign aid is cost-effective," he added.

Senator Obama responded to a call by religious and community leaders inIowa and New Hampshire to sign a pledge on global AIDS and to publish adetailed strategy to address the AIDS crisis at home and abroad. His plan alsopromises help for countries to improve their health care infrastructure, inorder to address current threats, such as drug resistant TB, and potential newthreats, such as an influenza epidemic resulting from Avian Flu.

"Fighting AIDS is a moral obligation that goes beyond partisan politics,"said Rev. Randy Gehring, a pastor in Ames, Iowa and a member of Iowans forAIDS Action. "Iowans want to know, in detail, how the candidates would ensureAmerica keeps its promises, including in the area of HIV/AIDS," he said."Senator Obama has made clear how we can do that while at the same timeensuring our response to poverty is broad and effective."

"I am thrilled to see that Senator Obama is coming out so clearly clearlyin favor of a comprehensive and fully-funded approach to global poverty," saidChristina D'Allesandro, a member of the steering committee of New HampshireFights AIDS. "Children have been overlooked when it comes to the AIDS crisis,and it's great to see that Obama has a strong proposal for what to do aboutit."

Several other Democratic candidates have also signed the pledge on globalAIDS spending, including Governor Richardson, Senator Edwards, SenatorClinton, Senator Biden, and Congressman Kucinich. Republican candidates havealso been asked to sign the pledge.

At the G8 Summit earlier this year, President Bush committed the UnitedStates to backing universal access to all AIDS treatment, prevention and careby 2010, but, so far, none of the Republican candidates have explained howthey would ensure America keeps this promise.

SOURCE Global AIDS Alliance Fund

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