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 Tuesday 30 October 2007
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AFRICA: G8 considers reducing antiretroviral drug targets

JOHANNESBURG, 7 June 2007 (PlusNews) - Leaders of the Group of Eight (G8), a grouping of some of the world's richest countries, are considering reducing their commitment to providing universal access to antiretroviral drugs, life-prolonging HIV/AIDS medication, by almost half, according to a statement released by the Zambian National AIDS Network (ZNAN).

According to ZNAN, certain delegations within the G8 were urging for the establishment of a new target of 50 percent coverage, a sharp contrast to 2005 pledges towards universal access, defined by UNAIDS as 80 percent coverage.

Given current treatment projections, the new G8 target would leave at least an estimated five to six million without treatment by 2010, of the about 10 million to 12 million people requiring the treatment worldwide.

The United Nations newly appointed Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa and ZNAN executive director, Elizabeth Mataka, called the possible reductions in the G8 targets a very real fear.

"There are perhaps shifting priorities with emerging issues like climate change," Mataka told IRIN/PlusNews. Mataka replaced the UN's former envoy, Stephen Lewis, on 21 May of this year.

Reductions in treatment targets would be disastrous for developing countries, she said. "We have created demand amongst our people based on the very promises of these G8 leaders."

She cautioned G8 leaders against falling prey to donor fatigue in the face of what has been achieved. "People have been with the epidemic perhaps two decades but we are just beginning to see real change, improvement in people’s lives," Mataka said. "Now is the time to push for universal access."


Theme(s): (IRIN) HIV/AIDS (PlusNews)


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
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This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.