Annan calls for 50 per cent increase in annual spending to fight HIV/AIDS

Annan calls for 50 per cent increase in annual spending to fight HIV/AIDS

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With funding for the global response to HIV/AIDS still grossly inadequate, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on countries to increase their spending by at least 50 per cent for the next three years in order to fight the epidemic effectively.

In report to the UN General Assembly on progress towards the implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, Mr. Annan says only such a steady increase would allow the international community to meet its target of $10 billion by 2005. Present global spending is about one third the amount required to meet that goal.

Unless the global response to HIV/AIDS was strengthened, Mr. Annan warns, there would be 45 million new infections between 2002 and 2010, 28 million of which could be averted with adequate resources.

The Secretary General says that since HIV/AIDS had more impact on low- and middle-income countries, global research priorities and funding devoted to the epidemic should reflect that disproportionate impact. "In particular," he writes, "the search for a safe and effective preventive vaccine must be given an urgent global priority, with greater investments being made by the public and private sectors in developed and developing countries."

According to his report, of the millions who live with HIV/AIDS in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, only 60,000 currently receive antiretroviral drugs, treatment which slows down the onset of AIDS and prolongs the lives of infected people. Meanwhile, people living with HIV/AIDS lacked sufficient access to a wide range of medical services, "including palliative care, prevention and the treatment of HIV-related opportunistic infections."

The report also calls for stronger efforts to increase access to HIV/AIDS treatment in countries where resources are limited and urges Member States to develop and implement a national strategic plan and integrate HIV/AIDS into their development and poverty reduction strategies. While most countries had already developed those strategies, their implementation has been impeded by a lack of resources and technical capacity.

The report identifies a number of key priorities where urgent attention is needed, including the urgent enactment of laws that would protect the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as a comprehensive strategy to support orphans and young people affected by the epidemic.