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International News

Mandela Calls for More Action on HIV in Developing World

July 15, 2003

The failure of the international community to share lifesaving AIDS treatment with the "millions of people who need it most" in the developing world is a travesty, Nelson Mandela said Monday in Paris at the International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment.

The former South African president praised President Bush's leadership in fighting the disease, calling his five-year $15 billion pledge to fight HIV/AIDS in poor countries a "quantum leap." Though critical of Bush over the war in Iraq, Mandela said Bush's pledge "has moved the debate from hundreds of millions of dollars to tens of billions of dollars." Mandela called on Europe to at least match the US commitment.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate had strong words for those nations hard hit by AIDS that have done little to fight the epidemic, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. "This is completely unacceptable. It, too, is a travesty of human rights," said Mandela. "Yes, these countries are poor, but we know they have the capacity to do more, much more." Mandela pointed to Uganda, Senegal and Botswana as notable exceptions and said he had grave concerns about China, India and Russia, which have rapidly evolving epidemics.

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"By all accounts we are dealing with the greatest health crisis in human history. By all measures, we have failed in our quest to contain and treat this scourge," observed Mandela. "Why have we failed? In the end, it boils down to one inescapable fact -- we have failed to translate our scientific progress into action where it is most needed, in the communities of the developing world," he continued. "The single most important step we must now take is to provide access to treatment throughout the developing world," Mandela said to enthusiastic applause.

As Mandela left the podium, a group of HIV activists moved toward the stage chanting: "Treat the 6 million, where's the 10 billion?" Activist Gaelle Krikorian of ACT UP-Paris climbed onto the stage and after a few moments was embraced by Mandela.

Back to other news for July 15, 2003

Adapted from:
Associated Press
07.14.03; Emma Ross


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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