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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Bono promotes Africa Aids scheme
Aids orphan in Lesotho
Currently, there is funding for 25% of Aids sufferers in Lesotho
Rock star Bono has begun an initiative in the southern African country of Lesotho in a bid to improve textile workers' access to Aids treatment.

A day after the U2 frontman edited the Independent newspaper to highlight the issue of Aids in Africa, he has begun a six-nation African tour.

Textile manufacturers are the biggest employers in Lesotho and about a third of workers are said to be HIV positive.

The scheme will offer anti-retroviral treatment and encourage Aids testing.

Free access to Aids treatment was one of the commitments of the G8 summit last year, but so far there is funding for just 25% of those affected in Lesotho.

'Unfairly punished'

On his trip, Bono is hoping to raise the profile of this issue and review progress of other G8 commitments.

"In a small African country the three issues, debt, AIDS and trade, come together in an unholy trinity," he said, shortly after landing.

Bono in the Independent editor's chair
Bono edited Tuesday's Independent newspaper

He said Aids remained Africa's biggest problem, citing Lesotho as an example, which loses more teachers to the disease than it can train.

It was scandalous Lesotho's foreign debt had not been cancelled by the G8 group, he explained.

"The reason Lesotho has not received debt cancellation is because it has been disciplined, it has been punished for the fact that it has been a good borrower in the past and has paid back its debts, so we want to address that," he said.

Bono said he would press wealthy nations to open their markets to textiles from Africa, while the world's biggest clothing companies should take responsibility for the health of their workers.

Hear an interview with Bono in Lesotho

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