President Bush, Nigerian President Yar’Adua Discuss HIV/AIDS, Malaria Issues
HIV/AIDS and malaria were among the issues discussed during a meeting between President Bush and Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua on Thursday at the White House, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. Bush said that Yar'Adua is "strongly committed to helping Nigerian families affected by these diseases get treatment and help." He added that the U.S. is "committed" through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to help fight the spread of HIV in the country (AFP/Yahoo! News, 12/13).
About three million of Nigeria's 140 million people are living with HIV/AIDS -- the third highest HIV/AIDS caseload worldwide. About 10% of people in need of treatment have access to it, according to the group ActionAid. Nigeria's National Action Committee on AIDS in September announced that the country has tripled its number of HIV treatment centers during the past year, enabling about 135,000 HIV-positive people in the country to access antiretroviral drugs. The country did not meet its target of providing 250,000 HIV-positive people with treatment access by the end of 2006 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/20).
Bush said that he would ask Congress to double funding levels for PEPFAR "because we believe it's in our interests to help" Nigeria address HIV/AIDS. In addition, Bush said that the U.S. from a "security" and "moral perspective" should help Nigeria combat malaria and HIV/AIDS (AFP/Yahoo! News, 12/13). Yar'Adua said that Nigeria is "extremely grateful," adding, "I think what we have discussed has given me hope" (White House release, 12/13).