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Passage of PEPFAR

US President George Bush recently signed into law a revised version of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) authorizing US$48 billion in funding over the next five years to expand existing HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care efforts worldwide. The original five-year, $15 billion plan, which has supported the provision of life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for approximately 1.7 million HIV-infected people, was due to expire in September. 

The revised version more than doubles the amount of funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care programs, and also authorizes $9 billion in funding for malaria and tuberculosis programs.

A section of the new PEPFAR bill also contains provisions related specifically to facilitating the development of vaccines, including those against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The US President is required to report to Congress within one year on a strategy for accelerating the development of these vaccines, including details on creation of economic incentives for research, development, and manufacture, as well as the efforts taken by the US to support clinical trials of vaccines in developing countries and to prepare these countries for the introduction of new vaccines. —Jonathan Grund, contributing writer