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UN agency welcomes $1.4 billion French pledge to fight AIDS

UN agency welcomes $1.4 billion French pledge to fight AIDS

Michel Sidibé (right) with President Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni Sarkozy at the MDG Summit
France has pledged $1.4 billion to United Nations-backed efforts to combat HIV, in a move hailed by the world body’s agency coordinating the global AIDS response.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced yesterday that his nation will provide the funds to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria at a General Assembly meeting in New York on progress made in realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS by 2015, as well as achieving universal access to treatment for the disease, are among the eight MDGs.

“At a time of difficult fiscal space, France has put the interests of people living with HIV first,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), urging all other countries to follow France’s lead.

During a meeting with the UNAIDS chief yesterday, Mr. Sarkozy praised the agency’s approach to place the response to the pandemic as part of the broader health and development agenda.

More than 7,400 people are infected and 5,500 die from AIDS-related illnesses every day, and HIV remains the leading cause of death among reproductive-age women worldwide, according to the UN.

There are also nearly 10 million people living with HIV who urgently need treatment today.

UNAIDS data shows that new infections have declined by more than 25 per cent in the 22 countries most affected by the disease in sub-Saharan Africa, home to two-thirds of all people living with HIV.

“AIDS is a smart investment that is producing results for people holistically,” Mr. Sidibé said, stressing that “this is a time for scaling up, not scaling down.”