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Civil Society Groups Call for Universal AIDS Treatment by 2010


African civil society groups are calling on G8 nations to renew their commitment of a year ago to provide near universal access to AIDS treatment by 2010. The call came at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto. The African Civil Society Coalition on HIV and AIDS represents forty advocacy groups on the continent. Paul Okello of Uganda, who’s HIV positive, represents ActionAid. He says the G8 pledge for near universal access must not be an empty promise. VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua was in attendance.

The African Civil Society Coalition on HIV and AIDS represents forty advocacy groups on the continent.

Paul Okello of Uganda, who’s HIV positive, represents ActionAid. He says the G8 pledge for near universal access must not be an empty promise.

“Because it means saving the lives of 40 million people, who are HIV positive now. And many more will become HIV positive tomorrow. Last year we lost three million people to AIDS. And about five million got infected last year. The problem is still growing. We’ve got to take action now or never.”

He says other world events are drawing attention away from the pandemic.

“Global wars, global forum and global big business are taking over serious issues about human life and death. AIDS is killing more than any other war. But because it’s not the frontline it’s not drawing the kind of political attention that the leaders should be having. And I think they should be thinking twice about that.”

Asked how difficult he thinks it would be to provide access to treatment to all who need it, Okello says:

“As difficult as we don’t take it seriously. If everybody invested seriously, time, consciousness and money and energy to do it, we can achieve it. It’s possible.”

Okello says the African Civil Society Coalition on HIV and AIDS says it wants a greater voice in AIDS policy decisions by governments, the African Union, World Bank and IMF.

“The issue here is political will and the seriousness to commit the necessary resources, both financial and human resources and restructuring our systems to deliver on universal access. And we’ll deliver. I can bet you, we’ll deliver.”

The G8 pledge to provide near universal access by 2010 was made at the Gleneagles Summit in Scotland last year.

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