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United States to Grant $7 Million to Curb Mother-to-Child HIV/AIDS Transmission in Ethiopia

September 9, 2003

The United States yesterday announced that it will give $7 million to fight mother-to-child HIV transmission in Ethiopia as part of the Bush administration's effort to prevent vertical transmission in developing countries, Reuters reports (Reuters, 9/8). In June 2002, Bush announced a three-year, $500 million HIV/AIDS initiative aimed at preventing vertical HIV transmission in 12 African nations and the Caribbean nations of Guyana and Haiti (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/21/02). The program will be run jointly by the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Ofice, in conjunction with the U.S. Agency for International Development, CDC and UNICEF, Xinhua News Agency reports (Xinhua News Agency, 9/8). Aseged Weldu, head of the Ethiopian health ministry's HIV/AIDS Surveillance and Control section, said that HIV/AIDS could "soon become the main cause of death in children under the age of five -- worse than other major causes such as diarrhea and respiratory disease." UNICEF's Country Director Bjorn Ljungqvist said at a press conference following the announcement that 34% to 40% of HIV cases among Ethiopian children are believed to occur through mother-to-child transmission, according to AFP/Yahoo!News. He added, "Creating awareness and providing treatment will mean not only preventing it, but also saving a child's life" (AFP/Yahoo!News, 9/8).

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