Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day - Today

World AIDS Day observed across the globe

(NECN/ABC) - Today is World AIDS Day, when the 33 million people living with the disease are remembered around the globe. President Bush has made treating AIDS in Africa a centerpiece of his foreign policy, and he led the nation's observances today.

Standing in front of a 28-foot-high AIDS ribbon at the White House, Bush marked the 20th World AIDS Day with a major announcement. The president's emergency plan for AIDS relief has brought anti-retroviral drugs to millions infected with HIV worldwide.

PEPFAR is the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in history, with the U.S. supporting AIDS care for more than 10 million people, including four million children.

The U.N. estimates that 33 million people worldwide have HIV. Much of the funding supports programs in sub-Saharan Africa and there are signs the infusion is working. Uganda, once a hotbed for the disease, has seen infection rates drop and HIV testing has become more common.

In Zimbabwe, the population of those infected with HIV is also declining from its current level of more than 15%. But, their poor economy has led to chronic shortages of drugs, threatening to derail some progress.

With so many still infected, Bush already authorized up to $48 billion to expand access to drugs and prevent new HIV infections.

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