Australia Pledges $50 Million to Three Asian-Pacific HIV/AIDS Projects, Will Establish Regional AIDS Network
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer announced yesterday that Australia will commit $50 million from a block of $200 million previously set aside for international HIV/AIDS efforts to three regional projects to combat the disease in the Asian/Pacific region, the Sydney Morning Herald reports (Pollard, Sydney Morning Herald, 10/11). One project will address injection drug use in Asia, another will promote HIV/AIDS prevention in Indonesia, and one will help Pacific island nations develop and implement national HIV/AIDS strategies (Rosenthal, New York Times, 10/11). Australia will also establish an Asian/Pacific leadership forum that will facilitate HIV/AIDS efforts between nations in the region and provide training for senior-level political advisers to "ensure support for the battle against AIDS at the highest level," Downer said (Foley, The Age, 10/11). "(HIV/AIDS) has the potential to destabilize countries politically, weaken national institutions and unravel the social fabric that holds communities together," he added. Downer also said that Australia is "committed" to helping developing countries gain access to AIDS medications by drafting legislation that would allow them better access to drugs while complying with international trade agreements (Sydney Morning Herald, 10/11). "Many governments in our region are starting to consider new AIDS treatments in national programs for prevention, care and treatment and Australia will support research and trials to help countries assess alternatives for introducing new HIV/AIDS treatments," he added (The Age, 10/11). The announcement was made at the close of the 6th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific in Melbourne, Australia. Ministers from 33 countries met simultaneously to discuss HIV/AIDS and yesterday issued a statement calling for "urgent" action to combat the disease, which affects 7.5 million people in the region (Sydney Morning Herald, 10/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.