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US grants $18 million for HIV/AIDS
Thursday 25 August 2005
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ETHIOPIA: US grants $18 million for HIV/AIDS

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

©  IRIN/Anthony Mitchell

Arkebe Oqubay, Mayor of Addis Ababa

ADDIS ABABA, 27 April (PLUSNEWS) - The United States has granted Ethiopia US $18 million towards combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the US embassy in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, announced on Monday.

The funding is part of the global $15 billion anti-AIDS initiative announced by US President George W. Bush for 75 countries. "This plan is a comprehensive and sharply focused initiative intended to bring relief to the world’s most afflicted countries in Africa and the Caribbean," the embassy said.

Ethiopia is one of 15 "focus countries" being prioritised because of the scale of the tragedy affecting them. The scheme, announced last year, aims to prevent seven million new infections, treat two million people living with AIDS, and care for 10 million people living with the virus and AIDS orphans in the focus countries.

The grant was announced as the US inaugurated a voluntary HIV testing and tuberculosis centre at one of Addis Ababa’s main hospitals, the Zewditu Memorial Hospital.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi recently announced that Ethiopia was looking to the example of Botswana in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS by utilising effective testing. Botswana is already distributing antiretroviral drugs and encouraging routine testing at all public health centres and hospitals. "We know that Botswana has a considerable experience in fighting this pandemic," Meles noted.

Voluntary testing, officials said, was a vital weapon in efforts to limit the effect of HIV/AIDS, which leads to the death of about 600 people a day in Ethiopia. At the opening of the testing centre, the mayor of Addis Ababa, Arkebe Oqubay, took an HIV test and urged others to follow suit. He was the first senior government official to take a test in public.

Zewditu Hospital, which serves more than 40,000 patients a year, is one of 25 hospitals that will be involved in Ethiopia’s emergency fight against the spread of the virus. It will offer comprehensive services, including testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, anti-retroviral therapy and tuberculosis care and treatment.

The US embassy said in its statement that the grant marked another milestone in the "fight to stem the tide of the HIV/AIDS pandemic". The funding announcement and inauguration of the hospital coincided with an official two-day visit to Ethiopia by Ambassador Randall L. Tobias, the coordinator of the US government's global initiative to combat HIV/AIDS.


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