Bush, Putin Issue Joint Statement Proposing ‘Deepening Cooperation’ Between U.S., Russia on HIV/AIDS
President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday at the conclusion of two days of discussions at Camp David, Md., issued a joint statement saying that the countries could "deepe[n]" their cooperation in fighting HIV/AIDS, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 9/27). The leaders identified HIV/AIDS as one of a number of key areas where "progress might be made in the near term," saying that increased cooperation on HIV/AIDS between the United States and Russia would benefit both countries and "contribute to the global effort against this modern plague" (White House release, 9/27). According to a White House fact sheet, the U.S.-Russian HIV/AIDS Cooperation Initiative will identify opportunities for cooperation between Russian and U.S. scientists and provide competitive grants to support biomedical and behavioral research (White House fact sheet, 9/27).
The discussions between the leaders followed the first U.S.-Russia Business and Labor Summit on AIDS, in which more than 40 senior Russian and U.S. corporate and labor leaders met on Thursday in New York City, according to a Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS release. The summit, which was organized by TPAA, coincided with Putin's address to the U.N. General Assembly, in which he stressed the importance of global cooperation and local leadership in the fight against infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Following Thursday's meeting, summit participants issued a communique that calls for ongoing collaboration in the fight against HIV/AIDS, including the pursuit of nondiscriminatory policies in the workplace and the implementation of workplace HIV/AIDS training and education programs. A copy of the communique was expected to be included in the material provided to Putin and Bush for their Camp David discussions. Russian and international experts estimate that as many as 1.5 million Russians are HIV-positive and that the country has one of the highest HIV incidence rates in the world, according to the TPAA release (TPAA release, 9/25).