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(WASHINGTON, D.C.)- U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee today applauded the Committee's passage of the International AIDS Treatment and Prevention Act.

Murray is an original cosponsor of the legislation, which will authorize greater international involvement of U.S. health agencies against AIDS, and increase funding for treatment and prevention programs in countries experiencing or facing the risk of severe HIV/AIDS epidemics.

"I am pleased that the Senate HELP Committee has come together to approve legislation that is long overdue," Senator Murray said. "The human toll of AIDS is staggering and the economic and security risks are immediate. This legislation will provide critical resources and education to countries at high risk for full blown epidemics."

To date, AIDS has claimed 25 million lives. Young people, children, and women are particularly affected.

AIDS is exacerbating global security challenges, undermining conflict resolution and reconstruction, complicating peacekeeping efforts and leaving families and state institutions vulnerable to terrorist organizations.

AIDS cases are at epidemic proportions in Sub-Saharan Africa and are rising in the Caribbean, China, and India.

"Today's action will send a strong message to the world that it takes global action to beat a global enemy," Murray continued. "I encourage Congress to move forward and take this step to address the greatest public health threat of our time."