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Obama Pledges Major Expansion of AIDS and Global Poverty Programs

DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Barack Obama today stepped ahead of all other candidates for President in one of the most critical areas of foreign policy, the effort to eradicate extreme poverty. As a part of reasserting America's leadership in this area, he pledged to increase spending on global HIV/AIDS to $50 billion over 2009 to 2013, while at the same time increasing overall foreign assistance spending to $50 billion annually.

"So far, only Senator Obama has presented a specific plan that would not only increase AIDS spending but also provide the overall increase needed for the US anti-poverty effort to succeed," said Dr. Paul Zeitz, Executive Director of the Global AIDS Alliance Fund. "This overall increase is necessary to ensure critically needed development programs other than those on HIV/AIDS are fully funded."

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

Senator Obama responded to a call by religious and community leaders in Iowa and New Hampshire to sign a pledge on global AIDS and to publish a detailed strategy to address the AIDS crisis at home and abroad. His plan also promises help for countries to improve their health care infrastructure, in order to address current threats, such as drug resistant TB, and potential new threats, 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 for AIDS Action. "Iowans want to know, in detail, how the candidates would ensure America 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 time ensuring our response to poverty is broad and effective."

"I am thrilled to see that Senator Obama is coming out so clearly clearly in favor of a comprehensive and fully-funded approach to global poverty," said Christina D'Allesandro, a member of the steering committee of New Hampshire Fights 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 about it."

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

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

SOURCE Global AIDS Alliance Fund
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