Schroeder says HIV/AIDSthreatens Eastern Europe
23 April 2004
BERLIN – The global fight against HIV/AIDS, traditionally focused on the poorest regions of Africa, should be expanded beyond that continent and include Eastern Europe, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said.
“The number of HIV-infected people in Eastern Europe is rapidly growing and is taking on threatening proportions,” Schroeder said Wednesday night in Berlin at the annual awards dinner of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS.
According to the latest UNAIDS report, more than 230,000 new infections were registered last year in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, bringing the number of people living with AIDS there to about 1.5 million, or 50 times more than the number registered in 1995.
More than two-thirds of these people live in Russia, which still hasn’t developed a comprehensive policy on dealing with HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
“I’ve asked Chancellor Schroeder to talk to [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin about this issue when he sees him next time,” Piot said.
In his speech, Schroeder pointed out that the European Union had addressed the problem of the East European AIDS epidemic in its Dublin Declaration in February 2004 and “clearly stated that we must deal with it without delay”.
The chancellor said Germany is doing its part by spending about 300 million euros a year in fighting HIV/AIDS.
But Bono, the singer of the Irish rock group U2, who is active in global anti-AIDS campaigns, said Germany’s contribution wasn’t sufficient.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Bono said “rich countries like Germany” should be giving at least 0.5 percent of its GDP a year to fight AIDS.
For Germany, this would mean making a donation of EUR 10.5 billion.
Subject: German news