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Aid Group Urges World Leaders to Boost Funding to Fight HIV/AIDS


The international aid group ActionAid urges world leaders to increase their funding and other commitments to assist those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

The agency notes that 8,000 people in the world die each day from HIV/AIDS.

It says there is at least a $10 billion a year shortfall in the funding needed to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS have universal access to anti-retroviral drugs and other treatments.

ActionAid says only 20 percent of people living with the virus are receiving the treatment they need.

Therefore, the group says, it is time for leaders, particularly those from rich countries, to live up to their promises to provide universal care to all HIV-positive people who need it.

The national HIV/AIDS coordinator for the Kenyan ActionAid office, Ludfine Okeyo, tells VOA that sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to most of the world's people living with HIV/AIDS, is particularly hard hit with the shortfall in funding.

"For the places like Europe, the epidemic is no longer a problem," she said. "Why is that so? There's certainly an issue there. Why is HIV/AIDS being treated like a normal disease? It's like diabetes, it's a manageable disease in places like Europe, in places like America. But sub-Saharan Africa is still so much in need of treatment."

Okeyo, who is herself HIV-positive, says that women are particularly vulnerable to becoming infected. She says that, in Kenya, three-quarters of those infected with HIV are women.

Okeyo urges the Kenyan and other African governments to enact policies to empower women, such as granting land and property rights to women, so that they would be better able to avoid situations where they could become infected with HIV/AIDS.

The group says an estimated $20 billion is needed each year to fight the scourge, but only about $8 billion are available.

It urges donor countries to give the amounts they pledged at various meetings throughout the years and, in some cases, increase their contributions, so that universal access to treatment can be made available for all living with HIV/AIDS, especially the poor.

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