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Leaders Claim Success on World AIDS Day

  • VOA News

Former South African President Nelson Mandela has joined thousands of people observing World AIDS Day with a huge concert designed to raise funds and awareness of the disease.

Mr. Mandela addressed thousands of concert-goers on Saturday in Johannesburg's Ellis Park, urging them to help change attitudes about people living with AIDS and to talk openly about the disease.

Some 50-thousand people attended the concert, which featured international artists such as Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel and the Goo Goo Dolls. It is the fifth annual event hosted by Mr. Mandela to help fight AIDS.

Health activists around the globe are using the annual observance of World AIDS Day to focus attention on efforts to combat the pandemic.

The UN-sponsored Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria says it has provided drugs for nearly one-and-a-half million people living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

In the United States, President Bush is urging lawmakers to approve his proposal to spend 30 billion dollars over the next five years to fight the disease. The Bush administration started a five-year, 15 billion-dollar initiative in 2003 to provide life-saving drugs to AIDS patients in 120 countries, with an emphasis on 15 nations, mostly in Africa.

During a World AIDS Day event Friday, Mr. Bush announced that he and his wife Laura will travel to sub-Saharan Africa early next year to get a first-hand look at U.S.-sponsored AIDS programs.

The head of UNAIDS, Peter Piot, said there still is a serious shortfall in resources for fighting the disease, and that those afflicted with AIDS continue to be stigmatized and suffer discrimination.

UNAIDS says 32-point-seven million people were living with the virus in 2006 - nearly seven million fewer than previously estimated.

In Kolkata processions were brought out to observe the World AIDS Day. We have more on this from our Kolkata stringer Pramashish Ghosh Roy .



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