$400m for regional campaign
THE $400 million in additional aid to fight HIV-AIDS in the Asia-Pacific region, announced this week by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, will be used to improve prevention and treatment in some of Australia’s closest neighbours.
The extra money will take Australia’s commitment to anti-HIV programs overseas to $1 billion by 2010.
An estimated 7100 people in Oceania acquired HIV in 2006, bringing to 81,000 the number living with the virus. But by 2025 experts predict that without assistance, HIV will kill 300,000 people in PNG and 1.5 million in Indonesia.
‘‘ Nearly 40 million people are living with HIV globally, and 8.6 million of these live in the Asia-Pacific region,’’ Downer said in announcing the extra cash.
A spokesperson said the strained relations between Australia and PNG would not impede the provision of the money.
Programs will focus on HIV education and strategies for preventing infection, including distribution of condoms. A spokesperson for AusAID confirmed that the agency is working with regional partners to develop and deliver appropriate projects. Leigh Dayton