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Australia failing intl. commitment to HIV/AIDS

MEDIA RELEASE

27th June 2004

Australia failing international commitment to HIV/AIDS.

Australia is failing in its international efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic according to a new report by Australia’s leading aid and trade watchdog, AID/WATCH.

Australia’s aid and trade policies are inconsistent and lack the impact of challenging HIV/AIDS head on, according to the new report ‘HIV/AIDS - Australia’s International Response’.

Despite Australia leading the way in controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS in our own community, the same is not true of Australia’s actions in assisting low-income countries to meet the challenges the disease poses, the report postulates.

Inconsistencies in trade policy and an aid program that refuses to sanction treatment mean HIV/AIDS carriers in the developing world are suffering because of Australia’s failure to effectively utilize the vast resources organizations in Australia have built up in Australia’s successful challenge of the disease, the report illustrates.

‘HIV/AIDS - Australia’s International Response’ shows how Australia’s aid program has focused on education programs that have not been culturally sensitive and hence have had little positive impact and in some cases have effectively ostracized HIV/AIDS carriers, in countries such as PNG.

According to report co-author, Tim O’Connor messages such as “HIV/AIDS No Ken Kuap” which translates as “HIV/AIDS Don’t fuck” in local PNG pidgin, do not begin to confront the complex problem of HIV/AIDS. Australia has funded this campaign through Australian consultant ACIL to the tune of $60 million over 5 years. This campaign has little educational value and in conservative Christian PNG it has assisted in ostracizing carriers of the disease from their community. A horrendous position to leave HIV/AIDS sufferers in”.

‘HIV/AIDS - Australia’s International Response’ calls for an all of government approach to effectively tackle HIV/AIDS in a comprehensive manner, more funding for a coordinated international approach applied by the Global Fund and a coherent trade policy that will not jeopardize access to generic drugs so successful in treating the disease in Australia.


ENDS

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