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    G7 Ministers Urged to Act on AIDS Promises

    Friday, G7 finance ministers, representing the world’s major industrialized nations, will meet in Essen, Germany. Among other things, they’re expected to discuss trade, as well as good governance and fiscal policy in Africa.

    The G7 has invited the finance ministers of South Africa, India, Mexico, Russia and China to attend the meeting. The full G8 summit, which includes Russia, will be held later this year in Germany.

    As the finance ministers get ready to meet, some groups are calling on them to fulfill commitments on HIV/AIDS made at the summit in 2005, in Gleneagles, Scotland.

    Aditi Sharma is an HIV/AIDS coordinator for the group ActionAid in New Delhi, India. She’s currently in London and spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about pledges to battle the pandemic.

    “Two years ago the G8 finance ministers, as well as the heads of state, made a very ambitious promise to the world to provide universal access to treatment, prevention and care by the year 2010. And, two years down the line, they have yet to put the additional funds that this commitment requires. And they haven’t even got a funding plan on how they will raise the additional resources required,” she says.

    She says that even though it’s been only two years, the skills and resources already exist to speed up efforts.

     While Africa remains the epicenter of the pandemic, Sharma says India, with a billion people, now holds a special place in the fight against HIV/AIDS. “India now has the highest number of people living with HIV. We have 5.7 million people living with HIV. India also provides half the cheap generic copies of anti-retroviral drugs to Africa. And yet, only seven percent of Indians have access to the treatment themselves,” she says.

    India has surpassed South Africa has the country with the most people infected with HIV. Sharma says, “I think it’s a horrible competition when you’re competing with the numbers of people we’re talking about. Africa still bears the brunt of the crisis because in many southern African countries a third of the population is infected. And the impact of having one in three infected on a local economy, on the psyche as a whole, on schools, on hospitals is incredible.”

    Sharma says the G8 needs to allocate $8 billion dollars this year, and $10 billion every year hereafter, to achieve the goal of near universal access by 2010.

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