President Bush has expressed his delight in the progress being made to reauthorise his Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) but a leading pressure group has expressed its disappointment, saying that a Bill connected to the programme "has taken its eyes off the prize of global AIDS control".

The House of Representatives approved the Bill, called the Tom Lantos and Henry J Hyde US Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act) which the president said advances the "the life-saving work of the PEPFAR programme". The Bill allocates $50 billion for PEPFAR over the next five years, up from the $30 billion that President Bush had originally called for.

The Bill also allow groups to use PEPFAR funding for HIV testing and education in family planning clinics but not for contraception or abortion services. It will also allocate about $9 billion to fight tuberculosis and malaria.

President Bush's office issued a statement saying that this legislation "preserves the important principles that have made PEPFAR successful". Since 2003, it has supported "life-saving antiretroviral treatment for over 1.4 million people around the world", and supported prevention of mother-to-child transmission services for women during more than 10 million pregnancies. "Through the successful A-B-C approach to prevention, PEPFAR is saving lives and helping to prevent the spread of this horrible epidemic", he said, adding that he looks forward to working with the Senate "and hopes they will consider PEPFAR legislation soon".

However the USA-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation "expressed its profound disappointment with the House of Representatives" regarding the Bill to reauthorise PEPFAR. The problem for AHF is that the Bill "has absolutely no requirement that any of the $50 billion being allocated to PEPFAR over the next five years be spent on treatment". The current version requires that 55% of its funds be spent on drugs, a provision AHF believes "has been key to the success of President Bush’s landmark legislation".

Michael Weinstein, AHF's president, said the Bill "started out with the intention to save lives. Yet in the legislative process, it has undergone massive ‘mission creep,’ and as a result, has taken its eyes off the prize of global AIDS control". He added that "we express our deep regret over the cavalier redirection of these potentially lifesaving funds. We implore the Senate to take a more considered action on this bill".”