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Australia supports HIV/AIDS prevention and care

STATEMENT BY AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, ALEXANDER DOWNER

I am pleased to announce that the Australian Government is launching a six-year $200 million Global HIV/AIDS initiative.

This pledge coincides with recent calls within ASEAN for greater commitment of resources to address HIV/AIDS. It follows recognition at the October 1999 International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific that AIDS threatens to reduce or even reverse Asia's economic growth.

With the majority of the $200 million global commitment being dedicated to assisting partner countries in the Asia Pacific region, the Australian Government wishes to work closely with ASEAN member countries and others on this critical issue.

Work in this area has already begun, with a number of significant HIV/AIDS activities to be funded under the initiative already under development. For example, a second phase of the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care Project in Indonesia will be supported.

The project will adopt a multi-sectoral approach to HIV/AIDS prevention and care, with a focus on emerging issues and high-risk groups.

Australia will also be supporting the five-year PNG National HIV/AIDS Support Project will aim to minimise the impact of HIV/AIDS in PNG by supporting implementation of PNG's multi-sectoral HIV/AIDS Medium Term Plan.

As a significant amount of funding under the Initiative remains uncommitted, considerable opportunities exist for further cooperation.

AIDS strikes people in their most productive years and leaves millions of orphaned children. It also disrupts key sectors such as agriculture, education, manufacturing and transport. For this reason, political leaders need to commit themselves to making HIV/AIDS a whole of economy issue and to make more resources available to combat the spread as well as to address the dire effects of this disease.

Australia's response to the AIDS epidemic is informed by its own national experience and it will continue to play an important role in arresting the spread of the disease in the Asia Pacific region.

ENDS

See also www.australia.org.nz

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