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U.S. Pledges More To AIDS Fight

President Clinton marked World AIDS Day Tuesday by pledging a package of assistance to nations that must combat the spread of the deadly disease while caring for increasing numbers of children orphaned by it.

The White House announced $10 million in grants for the care of AIDS orphans and highlighted a 30 percent increase in funding to the National Institutes of Health, to $200 million for research on HIV prevention and treatment around the world.

Mr. Clinton was to make the announcements Tuesday at a White House ceremony commemorating World AIDS Day. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Brian Atwood, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, were scheduled to join him.

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The administration's package of assistance is expected to have the largest impact in Africa, where the United Nations AIDS program estimates that nearly 8 million children have been orphaned by AIDS and at least 1 million children are infected with the virus.

The president is sending his AIDS policy adviser, Sandy Thurman, to southern Africa to gather facts about AIDS orphans and report on how the United States can respond to the problem.

Interviewed on CBS This Morning Tuesday, Thurman said 80,000 U.S. children are AIDS orphans.

"We also have schools that are coping with children who come to class and they are infected with this deadly virus," she said.

Thurman said the president's initiative will focus on children worldwide.

"The numbers that are so staggering are that, by the year 2010, we think that we'll have 40 million AIDS orphans worldwide," she said. "That represents every single child living east of the Mississippi."

An AIDS action group recently issued a report in which it graded U.S. efforts. The government got an A- for research, a D for care, and an F for international efforts.

Tuesday's initiative, Thurman said, is an effort to respond to those concerns by "supporting communities and taking care of those orphans to minimize the impact long-term."

The Agency for International Development projects that as many as 40 million children will be orphaned by AIDS by 2010, with 90 percent of thein developing countries that lack the resources to care for them.

The grants, administered by USAID, will be used to provide training for foster families, schooling for orphans, vocational training and other assistance. Also, USAID will work on improving medical care given children infected with HIV, and preventing the transfer of the virus from mother to child.

The White House said the NIH funding, included in the fiscal 1999 budget, represents the largest single investment of public monies into AIDS research. It includes $200 million to the NIH for AIDS vaccine research, an increase of $47 million over the previous year, and $164 million for new research, such as prevention trials and prevention and treatment of "opportunistic infections" like tuberculosis that kill people with HIV and AIDS.

As for AIDS in the United States, Vice President Al Gore was to announce $200 million for housing assistance for AIDS patients and their families. Mr. Clinton also was highlighting an earlier announcement of $156 million toward fighting AIDS among U.S. minorities.

Besides those efforts, Congress has approved funding increases for a range of HIV/AIDS programs, including an extra $262 million for the Ryan White CARE Act, an additional $32 million for HIV prevention programs through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and an extra $21 million for Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS.