Nations resist new financial commitments on AIDS
Fri Jun 2, 2006
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A major U.N. meeting on AIDS strategy on Friday fell short of concrete financial commitments but recognized the growing spread of the disease among women and their right to protect themselves.
Friday's session, the last day of a three-day meeting, brought together heads of state, prime ministers and health officials from 151 countries on how to care for 40 million infected people over the next decade.
Some 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981 and 8,000 die each day of the disease, although the rate of new cases has slowed. Women in Africa have surpassed men in contracting the disease.
The final declaration, many activists said, was more positive than they had predicted. Muslim countries, including Iraq, Egypt and Pakistan, at one point had resisted commitments on the rights of women or girls.
Still, some 70 groups among the 800 attending denounced the declaration as "pathetically weak" on financing and rights for girls under 18, many of them in forced marriages.
"I know that none of you got all that you wanted in this declaration," U.N. General Assembly President Jan Eliasson said in closing the session. But he said thanks to the advocacy groups, "the draft got stronger -- not weaker."
Although he declaration is non-binding, it serves as a basis for programs from governments, private groups and business.
The document says $23 billion will be needed annually by 2010 to fight AIDS, more than double the $8.3 billion spent in 2005. Nations agreed to search for additional resources to ensure universal access to treatment by 2010.