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AIDS fight escalates – $100M from Gates

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The battle against AIDS in the world’s poorest countries got a big economic boost but also a big reminder of the challenges it faces, according to news reports.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said it would donate $100 million to the global fund launched by United Nations chief Kofi Annan to fight AIDS and other diseases, Reuters reported June 19.

But a report in the June 22 issue of the journal Science says the world’s poorest countries soon will need $9.2 billion a year to deal with AIDS, the Associated Press reported June 21.

That includes $4.4 billion to treat people with the illness and $4.8 billion to prevent new infections, AP said.

The Gates Foundation, which spent more than $1 billion on global health projects last year, recently received $2 billion from the Microsoft chief Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, bringing its assets to $23.5 billion.

Annan said the $1 billion global fund, launched in April, needs $7 billion to $10 billion to stop the spread of AIDs, malaria and tuberculosis.

President Bush said in May that the U.S. would contribute $200 million to the fund, and the European Commission said it would not take part if the fund focused only on AIDS and ignored other disease, Reuters said.

Development Commissioner Poul Nelson said the fund could not succeed, and the commission would not back it, if drugmakers didn’t agree to lower drug prices in developing countries.

The report in Science said half the money will be needed in sub-Saharan Africa. Current spending on AIDS prevention and treatment in the 135 countries studies totals roughly $1.8 billion, AP said.

Worldwide, 36 million people have HIV and 15,000 more are infected every day, AP said.

For full story, go to Gates gift and Science report.

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