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NZ backs international HIV/AIDS battle

9 July 2004

NZ backs international HIV/AIDS battle

Aid Minister Marian Hobbs has defended government spending on fighting the global HIV/AIDS epidemic in the face of World Vision criticism that it is not enough.

"We've committed $6 million to fight HIV/AIDS in the Pacific, and in May we contributed a further $3 million, to international programmes such as UNAIDs and the Global Fund on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria," Marian Hobbs said.

NZAID, the government's official development assistance agency, is committed to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. "We support communities, NGOs, governments, regional organisations and international agencies, particularly in the Pacific, because that is our neighbourhood," Marian Hobbs said. "NZAID was a key player in encouraging the UN AIDS programme to refocus its attention on the Pacific this year. "NZAID funds over $11m annually to United Nations development agencies, such as the UN Population Fund and UNICEF that place high priority on HIV/AIDS issues, so that indirectly this contributes to HIV/AIDS in their programmes.

"The NZAID Africa strategy has HIV/AIDS as one of the three objectives, which aims to increase awareness of HIV/AIDs within the community and provide support for affected communities. The Africa programme budget is approximately $5 million per year and the HIV/AIDS expenditure will be a significant proportion of this, possibly around $2 million in 2004/5.

"Our commitment is not only reflected through levels of funding but also our international advocacy. At international and regional meetings we have ensured that HIV/AIDS is high on the agenda for discussion. " New Zealand will be represented at next week's International AIDS conference in Bangkok by the NZAID Health Adviser and MP Tim Barnett.

ENDS

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