Pubdate: Thu, 01 Jun 2006
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2006 The New York Times Company
Author: Lawrence K. Altman
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


UNITED NATIONS - Stopping the epidemic of AIDS will require $22 
billion a year by 2008 and possibly more in the following years, 
officials of the United Nations AIDS program said Wednesday. The $22 
billion is nearly triple the $8.3 billion spent last year by all 
sources, including governments and the private sector.

Urging that countries spend more, Secretary General Kofi Annan said a 
costlier and more sustained effort was needed because AIDS "has 
spread further, faster and with more catastrophic long-term effects 
than any other disease."

"It took the world far too long to wake up" to a pandemic that has 
infected more than 60 million people, of whom more than 25 million 
have died, Mr. Annan said.

Of the projected $22 billion figure, half is needed for prevention 
and a quarter for treatment and care of infected people. The 
remainder is for care of orphans, children at risk of becoming 
infected and program costs.

Mr. Annan and Dr. Peter Piot, executive director of the AIDS program, 
spoke as the General Assembly began a three-day meeting aimed at 
renewing the political commitment urged in 2001 and setting new goals 
for expenditures and for measuring progress in the battle against AIDS.

The General Assembly also heard from Khensani Mavasa of South Africa, 
who became the first person known to be infected with H.I.V. to 
address a plenary session about AIDS. Such sessions are normally 
reserved for United Nations officials and delegates from member countries.

Ms. Mavasa urged that the new declaration not be "a document of empty 
promises," but "a platform for targets based on action." Ms. Mavasa 
said that she had been raped and abused, and recommended setting a 
goal of ending violence against women.

Describing her life as one "under the power of men and the 
institutions they run," Ms. Mavasa called for making condoms 
available to everyone and creating a culture that encouraged their regular use.

Mr. Annan urged delegates to challenge countries that are trying to 
avoid goals that mention gay people, prostitutes, intravenous-drug 
users and others at high risk of becoming infected.

"The governments concerned need to be realistic and responsible," Mr. 
Annan said. He also said that "if we are here to try to end the 
epidemic, we will not succeed by putting our head in the sand and 
pretending that these people do not exist or they do not need help."

On Tuesday the United Nations said there were signs that the AIDS 
epidemic was slowing in a few countries. The favorable news was based 
on report cards that member countries submitted, as required by the 
declaration in 2001.

But the report cards showed that most countries missed more goals 
than they met. More than 20 million people have become infected since 
the 2001 meeting.

The first AIDS cases were detected 25 years ago. Now countries must 
fundamentally change the way they think and deal with the epidemic, 
moving from crisis management to "sustained attention and the kind of 
'anything it takes' resolve that member states apply to preventing 
global financial meltdowns or wars," Dr. Piot said.

With increased financing and H.I.V. services, along with more 
effective political leadership, he said, the world could achieve 
universal access to prevention and treatment in the next few years.

A crucial partner is the private sector, United Nations officials said.

On Wednesday the Global Business Coalition on H.I.V./AIDS released a 
study showing that private companies have become more likely to 
provide treatment for employees as the cost of antiretroviral drugs 
has fallen over the last six years, to $140 to $300 a year, from $10,000.

In African countries with a high prevalence, more than 70 percent of 
the companies surveyed are fully subsidizing access to H.I.V. 
treatment, the coalition said. The study, conducted by Booz Allen 
Hamilton, found an increasing trend to expand such treatment to 
employees' dependents. Companies are also offering access to 
voluntary testing and counseling, said the coalition, which includes 
216 companies. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake