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Countries Around the World Mark World AIDS Day


People attend a rally on the occasion of the World Aids Day in Karachi, Pakistan, 01 Dec 2010

People attend a rally on the occasion of the World Aids Day in Karachi, Pakistan, 01 Dec 2010

International leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS marked World AIDS Day on Wednesday with a call for countries to do more to prevent and treat the virus.

The UNAIDS High Level Commission on HIV Prevention issued a declaration calling on world leaders to begin a so-called "prevention revolution."

At a White House event, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he believes health officials will eventually be able to cure HIV in people who get into treatment early enough.

More than 33 million people around the world are living with HIV, nearly 70 percent of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

The head of the International AIDS Society, Dr. Elly Katabira, said despite recent successes, much more must be done to promote prevention and care and boost access to antiretroviral treatment in areas where the epidemic is still rampant.

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby spoke at the White House event, saying the Obama administration's commitment to investing in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care is "unwavering."

In a proclamation Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed the U.S. commitment.

A new UNAIDS report says 56 countries have either stabilized their rates of new HIV infections or achieved significant declines. But the UNAIDS HIV prevention commission said Wednesday that declining investments and political commitment, as well as what it described as "ineffective prevention priorities," are threatening that progress.

The UNAIDS commission's co-chairs released the declaration on behalf of all the group's members. One of the two chairs is Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, the country with the largest population of HIV-infected people.

The U.N. children's agency - UNICEF - said Tuesday a generation of babies could be born free of HIV if the international community steps up efforts to provide universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and social protection.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said proper testing and medical care that includes antiretroviral drugs could prevent virtually all pregnant women from passing the HIV virus to their newborns.

Tuesday's report said millions of women and children in poor countries have fallen though the cracks of HIV services, either due to their gender, economic status or education.

A large red ribbon, symbolizing support for the fight against AIDS, is hanging outside the White House in honor of World AIDS Day.

Meanwhile, U.S. government researchers say guidelines making HIV tests part of routine care have helped more Americans get tested. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly 83 million Americans have been tested for HIV. But CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden says 200,000 Americans are infected with the virus and do not know it.

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