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U.N. Official Says The AIDS Picture In Africa Remains Grim

The Special U.N. Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa says progress in fighting AIDS in Africa is “heartbreakingly slow." In a World AIDS Day interview, Dr. Stephen Lewis told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje that limited inroads are being made in the area of prevention and treatment, but that “hallucinatory numbers” of people continue to die – especially women.

The U.N. envoy says the most important development of recent times is the initiation of treatment – largely developed by the World Health Organization. He says under the program, one out of every ten Africans requiring treatment is now being treated. Dr. Lewis lauds the treatment project as having unleashed some hope “in the midst of despair.”

The U.N. official singles out Botswana for its successes in combating the epidemic – successes he attributes to the “single-minded” devotion of the country’s political leadership. He complements African AIDS activists and advocacy groups for tenaciously pressuring the Western world and international community to come to their aid. Dr. Lewis says in the end, he has no doubt the sophistication and knowledge of Africa will triumph and see the back of this pandemic broken.