State Department tells Congress its strategy includes condoms and abstinence

The State Department told Congress on Wednesday the U.S. worldwide AIDS relief program is helping more than 42 million people prevent the transmission of the disease.

"People are alive today because the United States has turned its words into action," the second annual report to Congress said.

But a member of Congress who co-authored the legislation that launched the plan, said "while this report shows some advances, the rate of progress is inadequate to meet either the needs for treatment and prevention or the commitment we set out."

"The sense of urgency is missing," Rep. Barbara Lee, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Congress aimed at providing treatment for 1 million people by the end of last year, Lee said.

Funding for condoms and related activities rose to $65.7 million (Ђ55 million) last year, a $20.5 million (Ђ17.1 million) increase over 2004, while $75.6 million (Ђ63.2 million) was spent on abstinence and fidelity programs, a boost of $12.3 million (Ђ10.29 million)

"Prevention is the first line of defense," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said upon release of the report.

Birth control measures are getting more funding from the administration even though many of its supporters disapprove of condom use.

Also unexpected were a rise in overall spending this year to $3.2 billion (Ђ2.7 billion) from $2.8 billion (Ђ2.3 billion) a year ago and President George W. Bush's request to Congress for more than $4 billion (Ђ3.3 billion) for next year.

Bush launched the AIDS relief program in 2003 to fight the disease in more than 120 countries. At that time, an estimated 50,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa, which is especially hard-hit, were receiving HIV drugs. Two years later, the report said, 395,000 people in 12 sub-Saharan countries were receiving U.S.-financed treatment, reports AP.

O.Ch.