Thursday, December 4, 2008

Official: African anti-AIDS fight in critical stage amid global recession

Official: African anti-AIDS fight in critical stage amid global recession

DAKAR, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- Africa is facing a critical stage in its fight against AIDS as it begins to have initial fruits while support may diminish amid the global recession, an official has told an on-going international meeting in Dakar.

"This meeting comes at a crucial moment. We have arrived at a new phase in a long and difficult fight against AIDS. The investments begin to bear their fruits," UNAIDS executive director Peter Piot told the 15th international conference on AIDS and sexually transmitted infections in Africa which opened on Wednesday.

But Africa is also facing a "critical time" in terms of prevention and treatment of the pandemic, with the surface of "new waves of infections" amid global recession, he said.

In a report published on Wednesday, an economist of the World Bank warned of negative consequences of the U.S. recession over the funding programs for the anti-AIDS fight.

In the context of the crisis, it would be more difficult for the world funds to cover the financial needs in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Piot said, stressing the necessity of re-evaluating resources and better defining the needs "country by country" in order to improve efficiency.

In his address to the conference, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade proposed at least half of the efforts be contributed to the prevention of HIV/AIDS, saying the conference is held in due time for such an action to respond to the disease.

Jeanne Gapiya, a representative and patient suffering from AIDS, said the financial resources allocated to the fight against HIV proved inadequate to cover the needs and remain too little for vulnerable communities, although they are considered on the rise in recent years.

She expressed disappointment at a possible cut down on the funding, saying for the first time the demand from African countries will not be satisfied simply for budget reasons.

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