Now that the Group of 8 has pledged to commit $60 billion to combat AIDS and other diseases around the world in coming years, US Congress and other national legislatures ought to look hard for additional funds to close a looming gap between the funds committed and the needs of desperate patients. The advanced nations — both the G-8 countries and other donor nations — have greatly increased their funding for AIDS programmes in recent years in belated recognition that the epidemic threatens to destroy not just its victims, but also the social and economic fabric of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. We are pleased that President Bush has proposed spending some $30 billion to combat AIDS abroad over a five-year period, from 2009 to 2013, but in truth that represents only a modest increase from the spending trajectory we were already on.

As Congress wrestles with the fiscal 2008 appropriations bills this year, it ought to provide the full $1.3 billion being sought by Congressional health advocates as the American contribution to a global fund to combat the three diseases — not just $300 million as proposed by the administration or the $850 million approved by the House Appropriations Committee. Congress should also set the nation on course toward universal access to AIDS treatment by 2010.