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Secretary Thompson Elected as Chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS

Date: January 31, 2003
Source: Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson was elected today as Chair of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In accepting his position of chair, Secretary Thompson said, "I look forward to working with the board to ensure that we fund financially sound projects that achieve maximum results. We must bring care and hope as soon as possible to the millions of people around the world who are ravaged by these diseases."

Secretary Thompson is succeeding Chrispus Kiyonga, the delegate from Uganda, as chair. He has been the U.S. delegate to the Fund since it was established in January of 2002. The purpose of the Global Fund is to assemble governmental, corporate, and private donations into a single, sustainable financial source focused on getting assistance where it is most needed to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The United States was instrumental in its establishment, was the first country to make a contribution, and leads the world in having committed $500 million, 23 percent of total fund pledges to date.

The Secretary's election coincides with a series of major HIV/AIDS initiatives including President Bush's announcement of the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which commits $15 billion -- $10 billion in new money -- to turn the tide in the global effort to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This initiative will result in the tripling of the United State's global AIDS relief since fiscal year 2001. Prior to the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief announced by the President, the President's global HIV/AIDS budget has increased by 82 percent over fiscal year 2001 levels.

Additionally, today HHS has extended the availability of a recently approved rapid HIV test from the current 38,000 laboratories to more than 100,000 sites, including physician offices and HIV counseling centers. Finally, the administration has proposed a $100 million increase in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program and a $93 million in AIDS research funding in the fiscal year 2004 budget request.

"As President Bush made it clear in his address to the American people on Tuesday evening, we are committed to the fight against AIDS, both nationally and internationally," Secretary Thompson said. "We're proud to partner with the Global Fund, with our allies, and with every man, woman and child in this nation and on this planet as we seek to end this plague."

Secretary Thompson has been engaged in the fight against AIDS since his first election as governor of Wisconsin in 1986. Though AIDS was a little known and much feared disease at that time, he made sure that those suffering from AIDS in his state received compassion and the best medical care. Today, his legacy is that Wisconsin is regarded as a model state for providing HIV/AIDS care and treatment -- and for effective prevention programs.

Last April Secretary Thompson led a White House mission to Africa visiting Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Côte d'Ivoire. There he saw firsthand the devastation caused by HIV/AIDS. Subsequently he has established collaborative HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment agreements with Mozambique and South Africa, as well as appointing the first-ever U.S. Health Attache to Africa.

That same month he was a signatory to the Pan-Caribbean Partnership Agreement to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Georgetown, Guyana. In June of 2002, he signed a Memorandum of Agreement with China to expand cooperation in HIV/AIDS research and prevention. In addition, several HHS agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have ongoing international HIV/AIDS research and prevention programs with many nations around the globe.

During his tenure as Secretary, overall spending on HIV/AIDS by HHS has increased from $13.4 billion in fiscal year 2001 to $15 billion in the President's fiscal year 2003 request. Currently HHS spends $14 billion annually to combat AIDS domestically, including $2.6 billion on treatment and vaccine research.