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AFRO-NETS> Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report - Tue, 22 May 2001

Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report - Tue, 22 May 2001

U.N. Delegates Meet to Discuss HIV/AIDS Declaration to be Approved 
During U.N. Special Session Next Month

Representatives from more than 100 countries gathered yesterday for a 
five-day special session to negotiate a declaration United Nations 
members are expected to approve during the General Assembly special 
session on HIV/AIDS next month, the Associated Press reports. The 
declaration largely reflects the goal of reversing the HIV/AIDS epi-
demic by 2015 that U.N. members agreed upon in September at the U.N. 
Millennium Summit. As it stands, the draft declaration, written by 
Penny Wensley, Australia's ambassador, and Ibra Deguene Ka, Senegal's 
ambassador, calls for the following:

* Governments to develop by 2003 national strategies and financing 
  plans to combat HIV/AIDS;

* Countries most affected by HIV to develop by 2003 "time targets" 
  that will help them reduce HIV by 25% by 2005 among people ages 15-

* All countries to make available by 2005 a "wide range of measures 
  to prevent AIDS";

* Countries to reduce the number of infants infected with HIV by 20% 
  by 2005 and 50% by 2010;

* Countries to develop by 2003 programs to increase the availability 
  of anti-AIDS drugs and to make progress by 2005 in implementing 
  "comprehensive health care programs" (Lederer, Associated Press, 

The plan calls for spending up to $10 billion per year by 2005 to 
combat HIV/AIDS. Wensley said she expected "major arguments over ac-
cess to antiretroviral drugs, trade laws and sex education" (Leopold, 
Reuters, 5/22). "This is no longer just a health problem, it is a de-
velopment catastrophe. ... It is a problem that is raising profound 
risks to security and development, not just of individuals, not just 
of communities, but of entire countries," Wensley added (Australian 
Associated Press, 5/22). However, she said that it is "important to 
stress that the epidemic could be contained." A "massive infusion of 
resources," "a mobilization of political will" and "financial muscle" 
will be necessary to contain HIV/AIDS, Wensley said (Holloway, Agence 
France-Presse, 5/22). Delegates will meet for the next four days to 
discuss the declaration. The special HIV/AIDS session takes place 
June 25-27 in New York City (Associated Press, 5/21). To view a copy 
of the draft declaration, click here.   

Five AIDS Experts Talk About the International Community's Role in 
Fighting AIDS in Africa on 'NewsHour'

PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" correspondent Elizabeth Farnsworth 
last night interviewed several individuals who have "been involved in 
confronting the [HIV/AIDS] epidemic worldwide." Jeffrey Sachs, direc-
tor of the Center for International Development at Harvard and chair 
of the World Health Organization's Commission on Macroeconomics and 
Health, called the global AIDS fund, proposed by U.N. Secretary-
General Kofi Annan, "a very big breakthrough," as it marks the "first 
time the world is getting together in a unified way to fight the 
three main killer disease epidemics right now: AIDS, tuberculosis and 
malaria." Wealthy nations, he explained, will "pool their funds for 
the first time into one global trust fund, countries will make pro-
posals to access that money -- that's both governments and civil so-
ciety within those countries." Independent experts will review the 
proposals to ensure "a scientific and evidence-based approach for 
fighting the diseases. And then finally -- and this is what is still 
missing -- we'll have the scale of resources to finally confront 
these diseases," Sachs said. Director of the Africa program at the 
Center for Strategic and International Studies Stephen Morrison noted 
that the trust fund will be a "source of anxiety and skepticism for 
some time until it's able to demonstrate some effect. It needs to get 
a governing structure that works and that is transparent and that is 
very fast and doesn't interfere with existing mechanisms and brings 
forward the sort of resources that are out there." Concerning the 
global mobilization effort to fight AIDS, he said, "It's historic. 
It's risky. There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding it at the moment 
but there's also a considerable uncertainty in the most acutely af-
fected countries." 

Prevention vs. Care

Dr. Peter Lamptey, executive vice president of AIDS programs for Fam-
ily Health International, added that he considers disease prevention 
to be "probably one of the most important needs," but noted that 
"there is also an urgent and desperate need for care." Dr. Helene 
Gayle, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Pre-
vention who recently announced her temporary move to the Bill and 
Melinda Gates Foundation, responded, "It's not either prevention or 
care. It's both. And they need to be integrated. We know from experi-
ence that prevention and care actually reinforce each other." Ambas-
sador Sally Grooms Cowal, former deputy director of UNAIDS, said 
there was a "need for real high-level political commitment. Without 
that, by all governments overcoming denial where that still occurs, 
overcoming complacency in places like the United States where that 
still occurs, we won't really tackle this epidemic until we get that 
political commitment. It's a real chance for the Bush administration 
to provide some leadership in a place where it's unexpected." Lamptey 
called Bush's initial pledge of $200 million to the trust fund "a 
start, but it's a drop in the bucket. If we get the same response 
rate, I don't think we'll be able to raise funds to save the people 
who are dying or to monitor an adequate prevention effort to prevent 
this epidemic from spreading." Morrison concluded that the "greatest 
risk" in the effort to fight AIDS in Africa is that "we do not have 
the results within the next two to three years in Africa in the most 
acutely affected states. And that creates disaffection and skepticism 
and the momentum that has been building within Congress and among the 
American people. ... We have a window of two to three years to take 
effective action in Africa" (Farnsworth, "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," 
PBS, 5/21)
The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for, 
a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, by National 
Journal Group Inc. c 2001 by National Journal Group Inc. and Kaiser 
Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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