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AIDS funding falls short


Photo
CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
From left, physiology senior Mases Kotwal and molecular and cellular biology seniors Anan Nellan, Lauren Giesecke and Adam Falck are part of the UA Student Global AIDS Campaign. The group appeared at Representative Jim Kolbe's office yesterday with maps and signs demanding an increase in AIDS funding.
By Kylee Dawson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
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Students protest lack of worldwide AIDS education funding

Vital funding for the Global AIDS Fund will not meet its expected goal due to budget constraints of other countries that could not match the $550 million the United States pledged.

UA students from the Student Global AIDS Campaign are upset with Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., for not delivering the full amount after he promised to secure the funds.

The Global AIDS Fund, an organization that also helps fight tuberculosis and malaria, supports programs to combat AIDS in 128 countries.

But 15 nations in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean that are among the world's most seriously affected nations are the focus of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Six students staged a protest yesterday because they thought that, of the $550 million pledged - $400 million of which Kolbe personally helped acquire from Congress - $150 million would be conceded for budget caps, said Lauren Giesecke, a molecular and cellular biology senior and member of SGAC.

According to Rob Blair, an AIDS subcommittee aide to Kolbe, the U.S. legislature had to hold back $88 million because other countries did not match the funds they'd committed.

Italy tried but failed to allot $120 million to the Global AIDS Fund while wealthier countries, including Japan and Australia, did not contribute money at all.

"We need to have every country committed to it. It's a global problem, it's a global crisis and we need global help to get it resolved," Blair said.

As the chairman of the foreign operations appropriations subcommittee, Kolbe has strongly advocated HIV and AIDS programs and recommended $2.9 million for 2005, the largest amount ever appropriated to fight AIDS, Blair said.

"We've never appropriated this much money before," said Blair. "(The students) need to redirect their criticism."

Giesecke said PEPFAR does good work, but the members of SGAC want equal funding and treatment for all 128 countries.

With posters and maps distinguishing all countries in need of AIDS funding, six SGAC students held a protest in front of Kolbe's office on 1661 N. Swan Road before walking into his office yesterday afternoon.

They gave the posters to Pam Harrington, Kolbe's scheduler, and told her they wanted Kolbe to request more funding for an additional $330 million from Congress for the winter session emergency supplemental.

"They have come in here before. We're happy to meet with them and take their information and I can be sure that it will be passed on to Congressman Kolbe," Harrison said.



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