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World Bank Calls on Countries to Boost HIV Prevention Efforts


Beldina Atieno is a survivor. Nine years ago, the Kenyan woman tested HIV positive
Beldina Atieno is a survivor. Nine years ago, the Kenyan woman tested HIV positive

Goal to Eliminate HIV/AIDS by 2015

At the World Bank in Washington, D.C., leading experts highlighted the achievements and the challenges for countries dealing with HIV/AIDS. The Bank is embracing the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goal of halting and reversing the disease by 2015.

Beldina Atieno is a survivor. Nine years ago, the Kenyan woman tested HIV positive. Her husband left her with an HIV positive baby and two other children. Two years later she was diagnosed with AIDS, but she did not give up. "I've actually tamed the virus. And I talk to the virus, and we agree on exactly how we should live," she said.

When her sister died of AIDS, Atieno started taking care of her sister's four children. "If you're not determined, I'm sorry. You cannot make it. You first get that determination to live, then you walk towards your determination," she stated.

Beldina's virus responded to anti retroviral treatment provided by The Global Fund, a public/private partnership that distributes money for AIDS programs.

She traveled from her home in Kenya to speak at a World Bank conference in Washington.

Thirty-three million people like Atieno are living with HIV or AIDS.

Experts say more money is needed for prevention, treatment and care.

The Global Fund wants countries to commit point seven percent of their gross national product to fighting the disease.

Organizers also hope to introduce more innovative fundraising, like these red shoe laces sold by Nike.

The Global Fund distributes one fourth of all international funds for AIDS, supporting treatment for two and a half million people worldwide.

"Responding to the challenges of development is a matter for all the society, not just for government. So the private sector, the citizen, the consumer, everyone has to come together," said Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund. "It's a global solidarity effort."

Officials point out that hunger interferes with anti retroviral drugs. They say the risk of developing AIDS could jump by 36 percent in infected people who are hungry.

Experts say prevention is the key to reaching the UN's millennium goal of halting and reversing the spread of AIDS by 2015.

And, they say the effort begins with Beldina Atieno.

"If we can learn to say no to unprotected sex, then it will start from there," Atieno said. "We've come to learn that men are very weak and when you say 'no' actually, it will affect them. So, it starts with women."

According to the United Nations AIDS Program, New HIV cases declined by 17 percent over the past eight years. One participant said the goal for next year is to transform those successes into new momentum.