Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Former U.N. Special Envoy For HIV/AIDS In Africa Lewis Calls On Canada To Commit $855M To Global Fund

Stephen Lewis, former United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, on Friday at a press conference called on the Canadian government to commit 900 million Canadian dollars, or about $855 million, during the next three years to the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Toronto Star reports. Lewis also called on Canada's leaders to increase foreign aid contributions as part of the country's membership in the Group of Eight industrialized nations (Black, Toronto Star, 8/11).

Lewis at the press conference said that Canada is decreasing its financial aid commitments aimed at fighting HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Lewis said Canada is "going in reverse" in funding commitments, adding, "It's just delinquency to fall further behind" (CanWest/Calgary Herald, 8/11).

In addition, Lewis at the press conference released the results of a Canadian Coalition for Youth and HIV/AIDS in Africa poll. The poll found that 46% of respondents believe it is "very" important for the government to increase access to treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries, while 45% found it "somewhat" important. The coalition - which includes Canadian chapters of CARE, Plan, Save the Children and World Vision - also called on the government to increase funding to fight HIV in developing countries.

According to the poll, nine out of 10 respondents believe HIV/AIDS is a serious problem, and 62% believe it is an international emergency. In addition, 48% of survey participants said the government is spending too little to fight HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Ninety percent of participants said Africa is the most vulnerable area worldwide to HIV/AIDS, and 92% understood that the continent is the hardest hit by the spread of the virus.

The poll also found that 70% of respondents believed they are well-informed about HIV/AIDS, compared with 80% in 2005. The poll was based on a sample of 1,429 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points, the Star reports (Toronto Star, 8/11).

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