2005-12-01-Aids poses exceptional threat

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2005-12-01-Aids poses exceptional threat


The United Nations anti-Aids agency says the exceptional global threat posed by the disease can be met only by an equally exceptional response.

On World Aids Day, the executive director of UNAids, Peter Piot, said proper investment could roll back the progress of the disease.

An estimated 40 million people are currently infected with HIV - the virus that can lead to Aids.

More than 20 million have died since the condition was first recognised.

"The lessons of nearly 25 years into the Aids epidemic are clear. Investments made in HIV prevention break the cycle of new infections," Mr Piot said.

"By making these investments, each and every country can reverse the spread of Aids."

He said the alternative was to accept that international efforts would always fail to keep pace with the number of HIV infections and Aids-related deaths.

Around the world events were being held to raise awareness of the disease.

In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was joining student volunteers and ballet dancers to publicise efforts to combat the disease, which the government says is seriously under-reported in the country's regions.

Children ignored

In Kenya the aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres complained it could not effectively treat infected children as "pharmaceutical companies are not making child-friendly versions of their anti-Aids drugs".

"Half of all children with HIV/Aids die before the age of two," it said.

The BBC's Andrew North in Kabul says Afghanistan does not have a major Aids problem - on paper.

There are only 35 confirmed cases at Kabul's blood bank, he says - but the reality in the war-shattered country is much harder to gauge.

The UN fears Aids could spread rapidly among the nearly one million Afghans estimated to inject drugs.

US demands

The US urged other countries to dedicate more funds to the global fight against Aids.

"The US is providing about 50% of all the resources for HIV/Aids among international governments and that fundamentally needs to change," said Mark Dybul, the White House's deputy global Aids coordinator.

The UK has pledged millions to develop vaccines, but a government report warned that targets on HIV/Aids made at the G8 summit in Scotland in July may be undermined by a failure to monitor progress.

Australia said it would spend Aus$10m (US$7.4m) to help fight Aids in India.

But Gabe McCarthy, president of the National Association for People Living with HIV/Aids in Australia, said her country was not doing enough.

"It seems these days that HIV just isn't as sexy as bird flu," she said.

The warnings came as the World Health Organization, criticised for failing to meet a target for 3m people to get access to anti-retroviral drugs by the end of this year, said progress was being made.

Dr Jim Yong Kim, director of the WHO's HIV/Aids department, said at least 1.5m would get the drugs.

He added: "More than 50 countries have doubled, or more, the numbers of people getting anti-retroviral therapy."

 

 


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