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Netherlands Gives 20 Million Euros to Fight AIDS

Netherlands Gives 20 Million Euros to UN Fight Against AIDS

New York, Aug 10 2006 12:00PM

With injecting drug use accounting for up to 80 per cent of HIV infections in some regions of Russia and Eastern Europe, the United Nations agency charged with combating drugs and crime today received 20 million euros from the Netherlands to fight the deadly epidemic.

The money will be used to help countries implement a comprehensive package of HIV/AIDS prevention and care measures, including outreach programmes, information on risk reduction and referral to services, voluntary counselling and testing, and access to treatment, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a press release.

“Injecting drug use accounts for up to 80 per cent of HIV infections in
some regions,” said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa. “This is a staggering figure. We need an all-out effort to halt and reverse this epidemic. This generous donation by the Netherlands will make a real difference to the lives of many vulnerable people and their families.”

The agreement was signed today between Mr. Costa and Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport Hans Hoogervorst, who said the high incidence of HIV/AIDS was putting enormous pressure on the healthcare systems of many countries in the region.

High-risk groups, such as prisoners and sex workers who inject drugs, will benefit from special interventions, and attention will also be given to the specific needs of minorities and pregnant women, the UNODC said, although Mr. Costa stressed the importance of not stigmatizing drug users.

“We must be inclusive in what we do. Stigmatizing the vulnerable only drives people further into marginalization and increases the risk of HIV/AIDS.”


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