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Tackling AIDS A "Key Priority" - PM Gordon Brown


Tackling AIDS a "key priority" - PM

Gordon Brown has highlighted the fight against HIV/AIDS as a "key priority" and spoken of his belief that the disease can be eradicated.

In a video message recorded for World AIDS Day, the PM said the Government would continue to play a "leadership role" in increasing awareness and providing retroviral drugs in the UK and around the world. Mr Brown announced a 20 percent increase in funding to local authorities for care provision for those affected by the disease.

The PM said:

"World AIDS Day gives us a chance to reflect on the people we have lost to the epidemic. As we remember them, our sorrow must not turn to despair. Just as once we defeated smallpox and now stand on the brink of eradicating polio, I believe that together we can make AIDS history."

Mr Brown highlighted a £19 million TV campaign in South Africa, and a £40 million campaign in Kenya, that will raise awareness and encourage responsible sexual health behaviour. He thanked the British people for their contribution to "saving and transforming lives around the world".

The UN coordinated World AIDS Day will be marked by events throughout the UK and across the globe tomorrow. Details can be found on the UK's World AIDS Day website.

Earlier this week the PM welcomed members of the Terrence Higgins Trust to Downing Street to mark its 25 years of campaigning on HIV/AIDS issues.

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

British PM's message for World Aids Day

The PM has delivered a message in supoprt of World Aids Day that takes place on 1 December 2007. Mr Brown said that tackling HIV and Aids is "one of the greatest challenges of our time".

Read the speechTackling HIV and Aids is one of the greatest challenges of our time and a key priority for this government.

World aids day gives us a chance to reflect on the people we have lost to the epidemic.

As we remember them, our sorrow must not turn to despair.

Just as once we defeated smallpox and now stand on the brink of eradicating polio, I believe that together we can make aids history.

But it will need a commitment from all of us.

Here at home - we must fight stigma and ensure that all our people know how to protect themselves.

The UK still has far lower rates of HIV than many other European countries and I am proud that my government has introduced routine HIV screening for all pregnant women.

But we must not be complacent. Last year over 7000 people in the UK were newly diagnosed with HIV, and of those, 11% were under 24.

So we must do more. That is why we are increasing by 20% the grant that is provided to local authorities to enable them to care for people affected by HIV and Aids. This funding adds up to an extra £17.6m over the next three years.

We have also strengthened our targeted HIV health promotion work for gay men and African communities by investing an extra £2million.

And internationally I am proud of the commitment and leadership we have shown in tackling HIV and aids in poor countries.

The UK is the second largest bilateral donor for HIV and Aids.

The UK led the world in securing the commitment to achieving universal access to treatment, care and prevention.

When people ask me if aid really works, I point to the people I have met on my travels who will now live to see their children grow because of life-saving medicines - paid for by the British people.

Just this week the government announced two important new programmes of support:

A £19 million TV awareness campaign in southern Africa, designed to change behaviour and encourage condom use. And a further £40m in Kenya.

And of course in September this year we made an unprecedented long-term commitment of £1 billion by 2015 to the global fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria.

This aid for aids really does save lives. There are now 1.34 million people in Africa who are living with HIV instead of dying from aids, because of what we, together, have done.

I know that in places of worship, workplaces, student unions and schools all over the country, work is being done to mark world aids day and I want to thank you for your magnificent contribution.

Your commitment inspires me. I am determined that we, in government, will continue to play a leadership role, not only in the UK but around the world.

The British people are saving and transforming lives all across the world. Thank you for all that you do.

ENDS

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