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ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) are urging Congress to give the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a 10 percent increase in funding for fiscal year 2004, particularly for research programs in HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Office of AIDS Research (OAR). IDSA and HIVMA also support doubling the budget for NIH's Fogarty International Center to $128 million. Fogarty's programs train health professionals in resource-limited countries about how best to address AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases.
"Many phenomenal scientific discoveries and treatment advances can be credited to research that was facilitated by NIH," said IDSA President W. Michael Scheld, MD. "We wouldn't be where we are today in terms of understanding, preventing and treating infectious diseases had it not been for wise investments in research. In an era of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), West Nile virus and other emerging infections, we must keep up this commitment."
In addition, IDSA and HIVMA are urging Congress not to shift millions of NIAID research dollars away from HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases in order to support "advanced development" of a new anthrax vaccine. The White House has directed NIAID to procure up to 9 million doses of candidate vaccines-an extraordinary amount, as NIAID normally would need only 10,000 to 20,000 doses to do clinical testing of a candidate product.
"We don't oppose spending federal dollars to support a new anthrax vaccine, but we don't want the nation's commitment to biodefense to come at the expense of research into HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, which are also recognized as threats to national security," said William G. Powderly, MD, chair of the HIVMA board.
Investments in AIDS research have revolutionized the care of HIV disease and resulted in 60 to 80 percent reductions in deaths and HIV-associated complications in the United States. However, the sheer magnitude of the numbers of people living with HIV-850,000 to 950,000 in the United States and 42 million globally-demands increased investment in AIDS research, Powderly said.
IDSA and HIVMA support an amendment sponsored by Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Tom Harkin (R-PA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that would increase NIH's appropriations by $2.5 billion. The two groups also support an effort by Reps. Lois Capps (D-CA), Chris Bell (D-TX), Mark Foley (R-FL) and Jim Leach (R-IA) to increase NIH funding by up to 10 percent in the final appropriations bill to be worked out by House and Senate conferees.
"As we saw with SARS, West Nile virus and monkeypox, infectious diseases respect no borders and can move with ease from one continent to another. Diseases that threaten people in remote locations in the developing world can have an impact on people in this country," Scheld said. "A strong commitment to infectious disease research programs is essential to protect the health of our world and our nation."
The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), based in Alexandria, Va., is a professional society representing 7,000 physicians and scientists who specialize in infectious diseases. Housed within IDSA is the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), which represents 2,500 physicians working on the front line of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Together, IDSA and HIVMA are the principal organizations representing infectious diseases and HIV physicians.