The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee unanimously approved legislation yesterday that would greatly expand public education and medical research on AIDS.
The measure, approved 15 to 0, would provide $900 million for services ranging from increased hiring of medical researchers to creation of an international research data bank.
The bill, which now goes to the Senate floor, does not address testing for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, an issue that committee leaders said will be addressed in subsequent legislation that is sure to provoke bipartisan strains.
"Today, the Senate launched the first counterattack on this virus, which threatens the lives of all Americans," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), chairman of the committee, said.
"Research will be increased to the maximum amount that can be usefully applied and the bill creates a massive education campaign to inform the American public about this dread disease," he added.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said, "Like all compromises, there are provisions of this legislation that are not perfect. But I'm confident that when this package is viewed in its entirety, it can add another strong step toward combating AIDS and finding a cure for this disease."
Lawmakers took special note of a $150 million allocation for state and local public-education programs. The legislation allows state and local officials to tailor their programs to target specific groups in their areas that are particularly at risk. For example, they said, New York would want to concentrate on intravenous drug abusers while California's effort would be primarily directed toward gay men.
The legislation also includes:$100 million to hire up to 690 more employes at federal health agencies. $100 million for states to pay for home health care, outpatient mental health and and drug-abuse treatment services. $50 million for grants and technical assistance for international AIDS efforts, including creation of an International AIDS Research Data Bank. An unspecified amount to establish a facility at the National Institutes of Health for rapid evaluation and treatment of AIDS patients. $35 million for special training for health professionals.