EU vows to tackle AIDS at highest level

14th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

14 March 2007, Bremen, Germany (dpa) - The European Union pledged Tuesday to tackle the spread of AIDS at the highest political level. "This is a topic which must be tackled at the highest possible political level," German Health Minister Ulla Schmidt said at the end of a two-day conference of EU health ministers and AIDS experts. "We will do all that is in our power to ensure access, throughout Europe, to prevention and affordable treatment and to make it possible for all of those who are infected in Euro

14 March 2007

Bremen, Germany (dpa) - The European Union pledged Tuesday to tackle the spread of AIDS at the highest political level.

"This is a topic which must be tackled at the highest possible political level," German Health Minister Ulla Schmidt said at the end of a two-day conference of EU health ministers and AIDS experts.

"We will do all that is in our power to ensure access, throughout Europe, to prevention and affordable treatment and to make it possible for all of those who are infected in Europe to live a life free from stigmatisation and discrimination," she said.

Schmidt said the pandemic dimensions and threat posed by AIDS meant that countries had to look beyond their own borders "and even beyond those of the European Union and of Europe itself."

The conference heard that ministers had succeeded in winning over major producers of AIDS drugs to make their products affordable across Europe as part of a sustainable strategy in the fight against the disease.

She said that talks would begin in the coming months with affected countries in Eastern Europe about price levels, particularly those nations bordering the EU.

But affordable medicine alone was not enough, the minister said, appealing to individual governments to step up their efforts to combat a disease that has affected 40 million around the world.

In an address to the conference on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised to see to it that the fight against AIDS is on the summit agendas of the EU and Group of Eight leading industrial nations in June. Germany is current president of both groups.

The director of the UN specialized agency UNAIDS, Peter Piot, urged the EU to step up its efforts to help combat the disease in Eastern Europe.

"The EU and Germany do a lot for developing countries, but not enough for their neighbours," he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. Piot said the governments in Eastern Europe also needed to do more, and urged them to cooperate with aid organizations dealing with AIDS.

In Western Europe, he said, more people were becoming lax in relation to the disease and did not regard it as a threat any more because of advances in methods of treatment.

In Germany, where around 56,000 are infected with the AIDS virus, there were 2,700 new infections last year, some 200 more than in 2005.

DPA

Subject: German news

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