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Europe vows to boost AIDS fight in Africa

Lilongwe — The European Commission will boost efforts to prevent HIV infections in Southern Africa, the world’s worst-hit region that saw 1.5 million new infections in 2007, an EU envoy said Thursday.

"We have to do more on prevention, and we have to do it better and faster,” Alessandro Mariani, the European Union’s ambassador to Malawi, told AFP. “HIV infections are unacceptably high."
Mariani was speaking at the end of a two-day meeting here for 10 southern African states.

"Prevention, prevention and prevention will be our main objective,” said Mariani, who chairs the EC’s regional anti-AIDS group. “We want a new generation which is HIV free."
Preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV will be a priority, but the new focus will also aim to stop HIV transmission in the broader public.

Mariani refused to say how much money the EC will pump into the drive, but said the EC will build on "significant European resources dedicated to the fight against HIV and AIDS in the region."

Southern Africa bears a disproportionate share of the global HIV burden, with 35 percent of the world’s new infections and 38 percent of AIDS deaths in 2007.

South Africa has the largest HIV epidemic in the world, with an estimated 5.7 million people living with the disease.

The EC action against AIDS group comprises Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.