News24

Clinton speaks at Aids conference

2010-07-19 12:28

Vienna - Former US president Bill Clinton has called for more efficient use of funding in the fight against Aids to ensure that people who need it actually get it.

Clinton made the comments on Monday at an international Aids conference in Austria's capital, Vienna.

He said that in many countries, money for Aids is misspent and that funding should go directly to local organisations and national plans in developing countries that can deliver services well at a lower cost and less overhead than established organisations.

On Sunday, the head of the conference said world leaders lack the political will to ensure that everyone infected with HIV and Aids gets treatment.

'Show us the money'

Julio Montaner - the president of the International Aids Society and chairperson of the Aids 2010 conference - said the G8 group of rich nations has failed to deliver on a commitment to guarantee universal access and warned this could have dire consequences.

Montaner's comments to reporters appeared to foreshadow one of the key topics for the weeklong gathering, which organisers say has drawn 20 000 policymakers, experts and advocates to take stock of efforts to fight the disease and generate momentum for the future.

Reflecting the emotional nature of the debate, protesters carrying banners and shouting slogans such as "broken promises kill, show us the money!" and "treat the people!" delayed the start of the opening session.

In 2005, G8 leaders committed in a communiqué to developing and implementing an Africa-focused package for HIV prevention, treatment and care with the aim of getting "as close as possible to universal access to treatment for all those who need it by 2010." They reaffirmed and broadened their commitment a year later in Russia with more detailed financing pledges.

Target will not be met

But a G8 accountability report from the most recent summit of world leaders in Canada last month acknowledged that the "universal access targets with respect to HIV/Aids will not be met by 2010."

Among the issues to be discussed by participants through to Friday are the decriminalisation of drug users, as well as the growing Aids epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Montaner accused governments from some Eastern European states of indifference to the acute situations in their countries and said their absence at the Vienna meeting was "irresponsible to the point of criminal negligence".

According to the World Health Organisation, 33.4 million people were living with HIV in 2008. While the numbers of deaths declined to two million in 2008 from 2.2m in 2004, about 2.7m new infections still occur each year.