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Financial woes hurting Aids fight: Bono

2010-12-01 07:51
Sydney - Financial tough times in developed economies are undercutting efforts to stop the global spread of Aids, U2 lead singer Bono said on Tuesday.

"Times are hard in the Western world," the Irish rock star and campaigner said at the Sydney Opera House after launching World Aids Day, marked around the world on December 1.

Bono said agencies established to arrest Aids (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) were fighting "hard for funding" nearly three decades after the disease was first diagnosed.

He added that more money was needed to meet a target set by the Global Fund to eliminate the transmission of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) from pregnant mothers to their unborn children by 2015.

According to the United Nations children's fund UNICEF, over a thousand babies are born each day in Africa with HIV and about half of the HIV-positive women in Africa do not get the drugs they need to prevent transmission of the virus to their babies.

"In recessionary times, people have to tell their politicians that this is important to them," Bono said.

An estimated 33.3 million people worldwide in 2009 had HIV,  according to the latest figures issued by UNAIDS. There were 26.2 million in 1999.

There is no cure and no commercially available vaccine but combinations of drugs called antiretrovirals can keep patients healthy. However, the virus stays in the body forever and can reactivate if people stop taking the drugs.

"Some people think that the pandemic is on its way out and it's job done," Bono said. "It is really not so."

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