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AIDS bill named for Lantos

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A bill increasing funding for combating AIDS in Africa was named for the late U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.).

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde U.S. Global Leadership against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act” on Wednesday.

Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress, was a champion of relief funding for Africa. Lantos chaired the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee from 2007 until his death earlier this year; his predecessor, Hyde (R-Ill.), who chaired it until his retirement in 2006, died last year.

The bill would increase funding from $19 billion over the last five years to $50 billion over the next five years. It is now under Senate consideration.

Jewish groups have generally backed the bill, although some are critical of its forceful promotion of sexual abstinence as a prophylactic measure, saying it is bad science.

“Most effective programs in decreasing the rate of new infections have been those that adopt a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy,” the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center said in a statement.

Lantos was separately honored on Tuesday by the Save Darfur coalition for his advocacy on behalf of civilians in the region of Sudan who have been massacred and driven from their homes by government allied militias. “Out of his personal experience of the Holocaust, Rep. Lantos formed an unshakable commitment to human rights that inspired his Congressional efforts for Darfur,” the coalition said in naming Lantos a “Darfur Hero.”

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