Senate OKs $600M for AIDS
.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Legislation committing up to $600 million in U.S. aid for fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa and developing countries elsewhere was passed Wednesday by the Senate.

On a voice vote, the Senate approved a bill by Sens. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Jesse Helms, R-N.C., authorizing $300 million in each of the next two years for AIDS prevention and treatment and also for the care of AIDS orphans in developing countries.

The bill directs the Treasury Department to establish a trust fund with the World Bank for the prevention efforts and the treatment of orphans.

Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the bill requires that up to $220 million of all U.S. bilateral funding for HIV-AIDS programs over the next two years be spent on supporting orphans in Africa. The United Nations has predicted that the disease is expected to wipe out half the teen-age population in some poor countries in Africa.

``Children are the hardest hit and they are the innocent victims of this sexually transmitted disease,'' said Helms. ``In fact the 28 million children orphaned in Africa alone could easily prove to be a low estimate.''

The bill also authorizes $120 million over the next to years for treating and controlling tuberculosis in poor countries.

Similar legislation is pending in the House, which voted earlier this month to fully fund President Clinton's request for $244 million next year for combatting and treating AIDS in poor countries.

AP-NY-07-26-00 2132EDT