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UNITED NATIONS: Launch of Global AIDS Fund at G-8 summit gets mixed reaction

AIDS activists condemned as “outrageously low” the US $1.3 billion pledged by G-8 leaders at the Genoa summit to launch the global fund to fight HIV/AIDS.

The Health Gap Coalition, a network of US based AIDS activists, released a press statement on Friday criticising the G-8 leaders for “refusing to muster” the US $7-10 billion needed annually to enable the fund to sustain treatment and said the US $1.3 billion raised meant that the fund was a “study in planned failure”. Charity organisation Oxfam said on Monday that the global AIDS fund still needed more resources and did nothing about the cost of drugs in poor countries.

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Activists also attacked the G-8 leaders for failing to address the conflict between EU member countries and the United States over the subject of access to affordable AIDS treatment during the summit. EU member countries are apparently moving toward support for cheaper AIDS treatment purchase using a bulk procurement model while the United States indicated that drug company charity should drive treatment access efforts. Activists called for the G-8 to immediately announce its support for the bulk purchase of medication from suppliers regardless of drug patent status.

Despite the condemnation by NGOs, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday thanked the G-8 leaders for their “extraordinary expression of support” for the global fund. He said the commitment and resources would be indispensable in the battle against AIDS. In a statement released at the summit on Saturday, the United States announced that President George W. Bush had increased his country’s contribution the global AIDS fund from US $100 million to US $300 million.

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

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