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Aids will be long more funds needed conference told

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Picture: (AFP Graphic)- HIV carriers, new infections and AIDS deaths in 2007. Leaders in the fight against AIDS pleaded over the weekend for the world to keep up its momentum against the disease and step up funding for HIV treatment and prevention.

By Richard Ingham

A global conference on AIDS was to get down to business today after hearing that victory against the disease lay beyond the farthest horizon and endangered lives could only be saved with inflows of money.
Funding, access to treatment, beefing up prevention against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and an array of social evils from stigma to violence against women are the headline issues at the six-day parlay.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in yesterdays opening ceremonies, urged wealthy donor countries to live up to UN and G8 commitments to achieve universal access to lifeline anti-HIV drugs by 2010.

Ban warned "As the fight against AIDS nears the end of its third decade, we are still facing a huge shortfall in resources".

The responses to HIV and AIDS require long-term and sustained financing. As more people go on treatment and live longer, budgets will have to increase considerably over the next few decades. In the most affected countries, donors will have to provide the majority of the funding.

More than 25 million people have died from AIDS since the disease first emerged in 1981, and 33 million people today are living with HIV.

Ninety percent of those infected live in poor countries. In the past two years, there has been a major boost in help for these people, but even now, only three million individuals, or less than a third of those in need, have access to precious antiretroviral drugs.

Margaret Chan, director general of the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO), warned that the war on AIDS would be protracted.