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Five key House lawmakers—including the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus—have called on the Obama Administration to step up its commitment to combating global AIDS.

In a letter to the president, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and other House members expressed concerned that “continued rapid roll out of AIDS treatment is endangered in Africa” and said the White House needed to dramatically ramp up funding in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget. A similar letter, from a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, is expected to go to the White House later this week.

Despite broad support in Congress for expanding the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), demonstrated in last year’s reauthorization of that program as the Lantos-Hyde Act, “we will fail to meet its promise if the current funding trends continue,” the lawmakers wrote. In addition to Lee, the House letter was signed by Reps. Henry Waxman, Donald Payne, John Conyers, and Eliot Engel.

“Without expanded funding beyond these 2-3 percent rate increases, it will be incredibly difficult to substantially expand access to treatment, roll out promising prevention programs, train new health workers, or care for the millions of orphans,” as the Lantos-Hyde Act mandates, the letter states. “In order to get back on track with the authorization levels in Lantos-Hyde, we urge you to commit $7.5 billion for bilateral AIDS programs and $1.75 billion for the Global Fund in your fiscal year 2011 budget request.” The letter also calls on Obama to provide $650 million for bilateral tuberculosis programs and $924 million for malaria. (more…)

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