President Reagan has signed an omnibus AIDS bill that provides up to $870 million a year for new programs, mostly for research and education, White House officials announced Friday.
The measure was passed by voice vote of both houses of Congress on Oct. 13 after several weeks of negotiations between the two chambers over differences in separate AIDS bills they had passed earlier in the year.It authorizes $100 million a year for AIDS testing over the next two years and an additional $100 million in each of the next two years for home health care of people with AIDS.
It also includes up to $300 million in new research funds in each of the next three years and $370 million additional for AIDS education.
Congressional backers of the legislation expressed disappointment that the final version did not include provisions guaranteeing the confidentiality of AIDS tests results and outlawing discrimination against those who test positive.
However, they were gratified by the inclusion of additional money for research and education and expressed hope the confidentiality and anti-discrimination issues could be addressed in separate legislation when Congress returns and there is a new president in the White House.
Both Republican George Bush and Democrat Michael Dukakis have said they support the White House AIDS commission's call last summer for federal antidiscrimination legislation as the single most important tool in fighting the disease.
The premise is that health officials will continue to have a difficult time learning the true scope of the disease because those who suspect they are infected will be unlikely to come forward for testing for fear they will lose their jobs, homes and health insurance.