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Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 10:15 GMT
UN Aids plan welcomed

Aids orphans in Kenya Kenyan Aids orphans - the virus killed 2 million Africans in 1998

Governments in Southern Africa have broadly welcomed the United Nations Security Council meeting on Aids and HIV infection.

During the meeting - the first time the Security Council has ever considered a health issue - the United States promised an extra $110m towards programmes aimed at containing the spread of Aids and HIV infection.

HIV/Aids statistics
33.6 million people infected worldwide
More than 50% of cases in Africa
Aids killed two million Africans in 1998
10 people infected every second
Some African governments have proposed that pressure should also be applied to international drug companies to make anti-retroviral drugs more affordable.

But other governments have said that the spread of Aids can only be halted by the alleviation of poverty across the continent.

Aids and HIV infection is ravaging the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, crippling emerging economies which are least equipped to deal with the problem.

Global campaign?

Many of the governments hope that the UN initiative will be just the start of a global campaign to limit the spread of HIV infection.

Aids funeral Aids deaths leave many African families without a breadwinner
South Africa has the highest rate of new HIV infections in the world.

The South African Ambassador to the UN, Dumisani Kumalo, congratulated the Security Council on its decision to focus on Aids.

He added however that HIV infection can only be contained if more effort is made to alleviate poverty and to improve education in the developing world.

South Africa has taken the view that if more is done to improve people's standard of living and if more money is available to spend on the provision of condoms, then Aids can be preventable.

Other governments in Southern Africa take a different approach.

Drug costs

Zimbabwe and Namibia, where around a quarter of the sexually active adult population is now HIV positive, want cheap drugs to help treat the infected.

The Zimbabwean Health Minister, Timothy Stamps, said international drugs companies have a moral obligation to lower their prices for drugs like the anti-retroviral AZT.

He said withholding such drugs in a continent so badly afflicted with Aids amounted to nothing less than a violation of basic human rights.

US Vice-President Al Gore assured the Security Council on Monday that Washington would not allow US trade policies to hinder other countries' efforts to respond to the Aids crisis.

Mr Gore has run into criticism from Aids campaigners who accused him of siding with multinational pharmaceutical firms against South Africa in a dispute over the high cost of anti-Aids drugs.

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See also:
10 Jan 00 |  Africa
US boost for Aids fight
04 Oct 99 |  Africa
Africa on the Aids frontline
01 Dec 99 |  Africa
Aids in Kenya: A social disease
15 Sep 99 |  Africa
Aids: World's 'worst undeclared war'
01 Dec 99 |  World
UN highlights Aids orphans
24 Nov 99 |  Africa
Mixed response to Africa's Aids epidemic
14 Sep 99 |  Aids
African countries list Aids priorities

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