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Clinton Foundation Pledges $10Million For Hiv/Aids

UN Welcomes Clinton Foundation Pledges $10 Million For Hiv/Aids Treatment To Poor Children

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today hailed former United States President Bill Clinton’s announcement that his foundation will donate $10 million to provide treatment for 10,000 HIV-positive children in developing countries in 2005.

The Clinton Foundation’s new initiative, part of a joint effort to reach more than 60,000 youngsters by the end of next year, will deliver life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs and treatment specifically designed for children. It includes an agreement with India-based pharmaceutical giant Cipla to make the medication available at half the normal cost.

UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy hailed the initiative as “a great first step” in the right direction but stressed that much more needs to be done, and done quickly. “While there has been impressive progress in treating HIV/AIDS in adults, children living with HIV, or who have AIDS, have not seen the benefits," she said.

Paediatric medicines have already been ordered for China, the Dominican Republic, Lesotho, Rwanda and Tanzania, with treatment set to begin as early as May in China, UNICEF said. An additional five countries are to be added throughout the year.

Children represent a disproportionate number of those needing immediate AIDS treatment. Today, only 15,000 to 25,000 children, out of an estimated 2.2 million living with HIV, are on treatment, with nearly half of the total in Brazil and Thailand, according to figures from UNICEF. In 2004 alone, some 640,000 children under 15 became infected, and around 510,000 children died of AIDS.

In other news, President Clinton is scheduled to address more than three dozen media leaders from around the world gathered in Cannes, France, at a UN-organized meeting, to explore ways they can combine their efforts to fight AIDS. He will join the gathering though a satellite link from UN Headquarters in New York.

President Clinton is expected to discuss his work, through his foundation, in fighting HIV/AIDS and will exchange ideas with the media leaders who are meeting at MIPTV, the world’s largest television market, as part of the Global Media AIDS Initiative (GMAI) at the invitation of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The gathering in Cannes comes 15 months after Mr. Annan brought together 22 media leaders in January 2004 in New York to focus attention on how their companies could contribute to the fight against AIDS. The attending executives at that meeting pledged their companies’ commitment and resources to raise public awareness and understanding about HIV/AIDS.

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