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Policy & Politics
Leaders Attending Summit of Americas Sign Declaration Expressing Concern Over HIV/AIDS Epidemic

January 14, 2004

Leaders of 34 nations at the Special Summit of the Americas on Tuesday expressed concern about the AIDS epidemic and agreed to take steps to fight the disease, Xinhua News Agency reports. In the Declaration of Nuevo Leon, which the nations signed at the end of the summit, leaders expressed concern about the spread of the disease in certain countries and the danger the epidemic poses to security. "We recognize that in order to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic we must intensify our prevention, care and treatment efforts within the Hemisphere," the declaration said, adding, "We recognize that to confront the challenge posed by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, it is necessary to continue increasing global cooperation efforts." HIV prevalence in the region among people ages 15-49 is estimated to be about 0.5%. However, underreporting is common, and researchers predict that Latin America is likely to have 30% more AIDS cases and 40% more HIV cases than current statistics show (Xinhua News Agency, 1/13). President Bush at the summit called for a concerted effort to stop the spread of HIV, saying that countries need to admit that the disease poses a problem and focus on education and prevention efforts, the AP/ reports (AP/, 1/13). In addition, Bush urged leaders of developed nations to contribute money to efforts to fight HIV/AIDS or use "bargaining power [to] work on behalf of those who suffer" from the disease to secure antiretroviral drugs at a "reasonable cost" (Speech text, 1/13). The leaders made a commitment to provide antiretroviral therapy to all who need the drugs, with a focus on treating at least 600,000 HIV-positive people by 2005, according to a White House fact sheet (White House fact sheet, 1/13).

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