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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 February, 2004, 05:35 GMT
US launches anti-Aids programme
Aids ribbon
An estimated 40m people are infected with HIV worldwide
The United States has officially launched its emergency anti-AIDS programme with the release of its first funds.

The $15bn programme targets countries in Africa and the Caribbean.

It is hoped the money will help speed up prevention, treatment and care services in some of the world's most badly affected countries.

The five year plan was announced by President Bush during his 2003 State of the Union address.

Where the money goes

Under the programme, $9bn is to go to 14 most affected countries in Africa and the Caribbean, representing about 50% of HIV infections worldwide.

The US anti-Aids /HIV coordinator Randall Tobias, said "the money will go to programmes that are providing anti-retroviral treatment, preventions programmes including those targeted to youth and safe medical practices programmes."

He said also included are, "programmes to provide care for orphans and vulnerable children".

in a funding process marked by continuous delays, today's results are leaving many experts in the field of Aids treatment how decisions are made
Michael Weinstein, Aids Health Care Foundation

Another $5bn will be devoted to ongoing bilateral projects in more than 100 countries while $1bn has been set aside for United Nations anti-Aids campaigns.

But critics have attacked what they say have been continuous delays to the funding process.

The Aids Health Care Foundation, the largest US-based organisation with clinics in the US, Africa and Central America, said it was disappointed with the announcement.

The head of the foundation, Michael Weinstein, said, "in a funding process marked by continuous delays, today's results are leaving many experts in the field of Aids treatment how decisions are made."

It is estimated that 40m people worldwide are infected with Aids/HIV and that each day 14,000 are added to that number.




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