Obama announces more resources for AIDS fight

President Barack Obama Thursday renewed the US government’s commitment to the worldwide fight against AIDS by announcing the allocation of more resources and the establishment of new objectives to combat the disease.

“We can beat this disease. We can win this fight. We just have to keep at it, steady, persistent – today, tomorrow, every day until we get to zero,” the president said in a speech at George Washington University on World AIDS Day.

When the pandemic began in the 1980s, Obama said, “few could have imagined that we’d be talking about the real possibility of an AIDS-free generation. But that’s what we’re talking about. That’s why we’re here. And we arrived here because of all of you and your unwavering belief that we can – and we will – beat this disease”.

According to the latest UN figures, at the end of last year there were 34 million people worldwide carrying the HIV virus that causes AIDS, 17 percent more than in 2001.

At the event, in which former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush participated by videoconference, Obama announced new objectives in the struggle, including increasing in two years from 4 million to 6 million the number of people receiving treatment for the disease around the world.

Also, the US government will try to ensure that medication against the HIV virus reaches 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant women around the world to prevent transmission of the virus to their unborn children.

Also, in the next two years, authorities will try to distribute more than 1 billion condoms in developing countries.

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The US government will also allocate an additional $50 million to the fight against AIDS in the US, where about 1.2 million people are carriers of HIV and where around 16,000 people died of AIDS-related causes between 2006 and 2009.

The new initiatives are part of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief launched by George W. Bush in 2003 and initially funded with $15 billion.

The US Congress in 2008 approved increasing the funding for the programme to $48 billion.

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